May 17, 2023 - Climate

A really Rad ride in Seattle

An electric bike with fat tires and tall handlebars.

The original RadRover model from Rad Power Bikes. Photo: Christine Clarridge/Axios

E-bikes are increasingly seen as key additions to attaining personal mobility while addressing climate change.

Driving the news: With more than 600,000 sales, the most popular e-bike company in the U.S. is based right here in Seattle.

  • Rad Power Bikes founder and chairman Mike Radenbaugh began selling custom-built electric bicycles from his parents' woodshed when he was 15. The company launched officially in 2015 after a round of crowdfunding on Indiegogo.

In addition to direct-to-consumer sales, the company has 10 retail locations, including the one in Ballard.

  • Bikes range from about $1,399 to $2,299, but most people add $400 to $600 worth of accessories, such as baskets, trailers, mirrors and industrial-strength locks, Radenbaugh told Axios. The styles borrow smartly from the world of scooters and motorcycles.

Why it matters: About three-quarters of all trips are under 10 miles, according to U.S. Department of Energy statistics, and e-bikes could replace cars for many of them, Radenbaugh told Axios.

Be smart: There are loads of federal, state and local rebates and incentives for buying e-bikes now.

What's next: Rad just introduced a much-requested three-wheeled rendition that is more accessible to people with disabilities and mobility impairments.

Thought bubble: I vowed not to buy a bike until I'd had a chance to road test several models. So far, I've tried a $5,000 Specialized, a $2,200 Volt Kensington, and the Lime and Veo bike shares around the city in addition to a Rad.

  • I liked them all, but was so afraid of damaging the expensive Specialized that it was impossible to have fun. A couple of hours on the RadRunner 3 Plus, on the other hand, had me smiling for days and feeling like, "Yes, if I have the right two-wheelers, I can live without a car."
  • If you live in Seattle, especially in Ballard, and you don't go test ride a Rad, I don't know what to say except "DO IT!"

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