11 Best Step-Through Electric Bikes (2021)
The RadCity Step-Thru 3 is the third generation of this popular electric bike from Rad Power Bikes. While several notable changes make the ride more comfortable and efficient, the bike retains many popular features from previous generations. It’s a solid choice for urban runners, weekend warriors, and everyone in between.
Rad Power Bikes sent me a RadCity Step-Thru 3 for a road test. Here are my thoughts after spending some quality time testing it.
As a 5-foot-3-inch person on a good day, I felt quite comfortable getting on and off the bike. The protrusion height is 17 inches, which makes assembly and disassembly quick and easy. Along with a 14-inch adjustable frame, the bike has handlebars that are adjustable between 42 and 45 inches. The seat height ranges from 24.5 to 33 inches. You can easily adjust the seat height using the quick release lever.
It might seem like the battery might get in the way when putting together and taking down, but its slender profile prevents it from creeping into your space. If you ever accidentally cut the battery off, it will not fall out of its storage location. Rad Power Bikes has carefully enclosed the battery in the frame for maximum protection.
If you plan on hitting your local trails, the bike’s suspension fork with 80mm of travel makes the rides smoother and more comfortable. You can also adjust the lock lever for more efficient pedaling on paved surfaces. The Kenda K-Rad 26 x 2.3 tires felt light and nimble on paved surfaces, but tough enough for unpaved trails. A puncture-proof liner protects against flats.
With a powerful 750 watt motor, a reliable Shimano Altus seven-speed derailleur and an 11-34 tooth chainring at my disposal, I knew exactly where to test the bike’s climbing abilities. I chose a local 1.2 mile climb with gradients ranging from 8-11%. This bike comfortably rode the entire hill and consistently maintained its speed even on the steepest inclines. Although it was pushed to its limits, the engine remained quiet and never seemed to tire or work too hard. This is a particularly nice feature if you are driving early in the morning or later at night in a residential area.
The central motor mount improves the handling and balance of the bike and makes it easier to repair a flat. Double-sided aluminum bash guard prevents the chain from falling off while riding.
Much of the power comes from the 48V 14Ah 672Wh battery with NMC Samsung 35E lithium cells. This battery lasts at least 800 charges. Regenerative braking recharges the battery when the brakes are applied so you can ride longer.
The expected range is 25 to 45 miles, depending on factors such as your weight and driving conditions. I averaged just under 25 miles on the (very) hilly terrain in my neighborhood, but closer to 40 on flatter paved trails and a little less on unpaved surfaces. It takes about five to six hours to recharge the battery. When the battery is low, you can charge it directly on the bike or take it out easily.
As a Class 2 electric bike, the RadCity Step-Thru 3 has a top speed of 20 miles per hour. A half-twist throttle provides a smooth yet effective power boost and can even be used on its own if you don’t feel like pedaling. Intelligent five-step pedal assist technology lets you stay in control as you ride.
A backlit LCD display shows battery charge level, distance traveled, speed, power, pedal assist level and operating mode. You can easily increase or decrease speed and switch between modes using the included display remote control on the left handlebar. A 5V, 1A USB port sits below the display to charge your smartphone and other devices while you ride.
Rad Power Bikes took very few shortcuts with this bike as evidenced by the quality of its components. The 6061 aluminum frame is very stable, even on rough surfaces. You’ll also find a sturdy aluminum kickstand and forged aluminum platform pedals with reflectors. The leather-wrapped handles are not only flexible enough for extended use, but they are also ergonomically positioned to relieve pressure on your wrists. The comfortable Velo Plush saddle has a smart integrated carrying handle.
All of these aluminum components ensure a reliable ride, but it’s worth mentioning that the RadCity Step-Thru 3 weighs 65 pounds. It is also very sturdy and supports up to 275 pounds.
Whether you use it primarily for commuting, city driving, or weekend adventures, the bike comes with two lights. The front LED light is quite bright and increases your visibility on the roads. In addition, it is powered by the bike’s battery. The equally bright taillight has separate solid and flashing modes and comes on when you apply the brakes, much like a car. A built-in bell lets others know you’re about to pass.
You can easily accessorize the RadCity Step-Thru 3 and other Rad Power Bikes. Whether you want to fit a children’s bike seat or a pet carrier, the Step-Thru 3 easily accommodates a variety of accessories, including a front rack. The front rack can support up to 22 pounds while the rear rack can support up to 60 pounds.
After spending some quality time testing the RadCity Step-Thru 3, I think it’s good value for money. The motor is powerful and efficient, making it easier to tackle steeper slopes and trails. The half-twist throttle is a lot of fun and really comes in handy when your legs are tired. Whether you use the bike primarily for errands, commuting to work, or for fun weekend rides, it’s incredibly easy to accessorize.
One of the biggest drawbacks is its brakes. While Tektro Aries brakes are more than adequate for most riders, they will likely require more attention and maintenance over time than hydraulic brakes. In addition, the hydraulic brakes provide better stopping power. This bike is quite heavy and doesn’t have a foldable frame, which is worth considering if you plan on carrying it around frequently.