Hello, and I think I may need to move on?

LisaJane706

New Member
Region
USA
Hello, thanks for having me! I am an experienced cyclist, but relatively new to the e-bike world, and new to cargo bikes. Previously I was hauling the kids in a Burley on an acoustic bike. We sold the second car almost 2 years ago and I transport the kids almost exclusively by bike.

I bought this Wagon 4 in April (1,300 miles and counting!). So far it’s been great (tyre recall notwithstanding), but I have definitely found some (2) limitations. I am moving house, and the new house has an insane hill leading up to it. Google shows the grade at 17%, and of course, there is a tight turn at the bottom so I can’t get a run at it. The first attempt, I didn’t make it. With my kid on the back, I had to jump off (at 5’4”, I would not call this a step through at all), keep the bike from falling to either side whilst also keep it from sliding down the hill. It was scary, to say the least. I’ve attempted it with her on the bike one more time and put myself in the right gear and made it, but barely. I have two kids, there’s no way the wagon can handle it.

So, drawback #1, unsure if the 750w motor or the fact that it’s hub driven is the drawback there. Looking for something with more “oomph” to make it up that hill… Drawback #2 is that when walking the bike up the hill with walk assist, the button is so dang touchy. The motor constantly cuts out, and as I mentioned the bike has two kids on it and I’m schlepping up a steep grade; it makes for a very unpleasant experience.

I think I’m married to the long tail format. I’ve tried a few front loaders and I just hate how they ride.

Looking forward to digging deeper in to the threads. Cargo bikes are a bit niche and so far I haven’t found anything that specifically addresses these issues. In the meantime, thanks for your time, and ride on!
0A8B33B6-6DA1-4AD2-B117-7A55685A9A9D.jpeg
 
Were you in PAS 5 and a low gear when you attempted the driveway?
Yep. I barely made it up with the smaller kiddo, I would not feel confident in trying it with both of them. It’s actually on-street with no shoulder or footpath on a corner, otherwise I’d just make my kids get off and hoof it.
 
I've seen some really unique projects using this bike as a platform, that basically steps the power up to make hill climbing much less daunting. Of course this is going to require some pretty substantial DIY abilities, but converting the bike to mid drive is a real possibility if that's of any interest....
 
The least expensive thing you can do to make that bike climb the hill is change out your front chainring. According the the OEM web site you have a 42 Tooth chainring. If you change it out to a 34T, or 36T Chainring you will get a significant boost in your climbing ability. You will lose some Top end speed but something tells me that you don't travel high speeds with your precious cargo. Your rear cog set is a freewheel and you are maxed on that (11-34T) so you cannot change that to your advantage. If you find the right size (BCD) five bolt chainring, it would be an easy, inexpensive ($30-$35) swap-out, and you will get significant climbing power. You will need to shorten your chain a few links. Easy as pie.

As Al mentioned above, for about $200-$250 there are easy ways you can add more power to the motor. That controller placement on your bike makes it an easy modification. But that price of $200-$250 is DIY.
 
Last edited:
Try what @Tom@WashDC said first. It's a good, inexpensive suggestion.

My daughter rides a Radwagon 4 and she ferries my granddaughter to preschool, so I am familiar with its limitations.

I personally ride a Yuba Spicy Curry AT with a Bosch Cargo Line mid-drive motor. I have no problems riding up steep hills. But it's 3 times as expensive as the Radwagon.

Good luck!
 
As AHicks & Tom@WashDC mentioned a popular upgrade is the Area 13/Bolton ebikes 35a controller replacement kit, some RadWagon owners have reported it makes the throttle very sensitive so they suggest not to blip the throttle unless you and your passengers are on the bike, also its not waterproof.

I hear you about the appeal of the longtail. This weekend my 7 yo and I got to test ride back to back a Bunch trike, Riese & Muller Load long john, RadCity with a child seat, and a Tern GSD. While my kid liked the box of the trike best, as a rider I found the lowered (20”wheel) longtail style of the GSD by far the best handling cargo bike with a passenger.
 
Last edited:
Hello, thanks for having me! I am an experienced cyclist, but relatively new to the e-bike world, and new to cargo bikes. Previously I was hauling the kids in a Burley on an acoustic bike. We sold the second car almost 2 years ago and I transport the kids almost exclusively by bike.

I bought this Wagon 4 in April (1,300 miles and counting!). So far it’s been great (tyre recall notwithstanding), but I have definitely found some (2) limitations. I am moving house, and the new house has an insane hill leading up to it. Google shows the grade at 17%, and of course, there is a tight turn at the bottom so I can’t get a run at it. The first attempt, I didn’t make it. With my kid on the back, I had to jump off (at 5’4”, I would not call this a step through at all), keep the bike from falling to either side whilst also keep it from sliding down the hill. It was scary, to say the least. I’ve attempted it with her on the bike one more time and put myself in the right gear and made it, but barely. I have two kids, there’s no way the wagon can handle it.

So, drawback #1, unsure if the 750w motor or the fact that it’s hub driven is the drawback there. Looking for something with more “oomph” to make it up that hill… Drawback #2 is that when walking the bike up the hill with walk assist, the button is so dang touchy. The motor constantly cuts out, and as I mentioned the bike has two kids on it and I’m schlepping up a steep grade; it makes for a very unpleasant experience.

I think I’m married to the long tail format. I’ve tried a few front loaders and I just hate how they ride.

Looking forward to digging deeper in to the threads. Cargo bikes are a bit niche and so far I haven’t found anything that specifically addresses these issues. In the meantime, thanks for your time, and ride on!
View attachment 139629
I don't have any advice on the hill issue, but just wanted to say that bike looks so cool with the little one in the back! We had the basic pull behind trailer with regular bikes when our kids were real little and sure wish I would have found ebikes then because those were rough to pull at times. Today was actually my 8 year old's first day riding to school on her own on her bike (less than 1 mile!) and she was so excited but nervous too. We actually did a trial run yesterday on Sunday and she did great! Fun to see little ones getting into biking like yours. We are a 1 car family as of 5 years ago or so and love it and have never looked back.
 
Conversion to middrive shouldn't be to expensive if you can keep existing battery. Ideally you'd replace back wheel but nothing stopping you using it with hub motor wheel turned off.
As others have said smaller chainring is good place to start and would benefit a middrive motor if go down that path.
 
Yes, thanks to the industry association and 40 state legislatures for outlawing 1300 w geared hub motors. I had one, was extremely competent at climbing with 330 lb gross. Gears wore out at 4500 miles, no problem since it cost $221 except the industry & state legislatures were busy forcing riders without cars onto noisy polluting gasoline scooters. Those things are limited to 5 hp, not one.
Mid drives are 750 watt too, but you can install a 48 tooth rear sprocket and crawl up the hill, if you can maintain balance at <1 mph.
No health benefits from a scooter, but US residents are supposed to die from heart disease anyway. Look at what medicare is willing to pay for poor maintenance of the heart. Enjoy your stent.
 
What are the steps to making this bike a mid-drive? Or would it be better to sell this bike to a flatlander? If selling it, is it better to convert an existing longtail or to buy an electric mid-drive long tail. I am leaning toward selling this one and converting another candidate. Most have much better frames and components. The RAD is low end and your tastes have improved. The steps to convert this one are taking the rear wheel to a bike shop. Have them order a new quality hub and something such as a Box 3 Prime Nine groupset that is 11-50 t. (English translation: The gears have a wide range with the low gear being the size of a personal pizza for climbing). The bike shop would relace the wheel with the new hub and install the groupset. Then all you would need to do is install the new mid-drive motor. I make cargo bikes for the San Francisco market. It would then be able to climb anything. Here is what an 11-50 looks like on a mid-drive cargo bike.
 

Attachments

  • GaryFisherCargo3.JPG
    GaryFisherCargo3.JPG
    360.6 KB · Views: 114
Some cargo bikes suffer from aerodynamic drag. Today I was able to turn that situation around.
 

Attachments

  • GaryFisherCargo9 (2).jpg
    GaryFisherCargo9 (2).jpg
    628.9 KB · Views: 123
  • GaryFisherCargoET (2).jpg
    GaryFisherCargoET (2).jpg
    326.1 KB · Views: 108
The least expensive thing you can do to make that bike climb the hill is change out your front chainring.
Unfortunately thats not going to do her any significant amount of good. If she updates her drivetrain, and on a hub motor, that upgrade is only going to help *her* fight/muscle the bike up the hill. It will be of no help with the motor, which powers the bike thru the axle and is entirely independent of the drivetrain.

I have been there and done that with regard to a big, fat Bafang hub and even with a 52v battery and a 35a controller, you still have a single speed hub motor. There's no real way to fix that with the bike at hand. The cheapest bandaid IS the application of brute force and revised gearing. After that you can try a controller upgrade that will increase your amps to the motor - which equals more torque (not a lot as its just a 48v battery). But even so - on a cargo bike that is at the extreme of extreme duty as bicycles go, you are only going to tick up a couple notches.

If you want to change the game, you go to a mid drive. On mine, on steep hills in my area I climb them at 12-15 mph. This is working hard on the pedals and letting the motor have at it on max pedal assist. If I want to let the motor do the work, I can do that too and just hit the throttle and take a break. On the steepest road in town (Prescott Lane in Monterey CA, just before the turnoff to the army base) - so steep people almost don't believe it when I tell them I can go up it, I am at about 8-10 and my ass is beat at the top. A hub bike has no hope trying this and I have seen Rad Wagon riders who give up as soon as they get to the steep part and go down to try and find another way over (they are available for rent here).

This bike has a 36T front chainring, which really does make a big diff since a mid can use the gears. 11-46T in the back and I can't use the big 46 thanks to the fat tires. But the 42 just under it gets the job done. A hub bike with a cargo load wouldn't have a prayer of conquering the same terrain.
PXL_20220826_184739431.jpg


A conversion of that Wagon would be tough. Mostly because of that oddball wheel size and the implications for the future with it, but also you'll have extra work and cost buying peripherals that aren't meant to work with the controller you'll have to discard. You already know the tire/wheel story I am sure. I did a series on turning a Mongoose Envoy into a really excellent cargo bike, but I don't haul kids, and that bike has 26" wheels which does not go ideally with squirmy little ones. Still, maybe something like this will give you some ideas for an alternative.

 
Drawback #2 is that when walking the bike up the hill with walk assist, the button is so dang touchy. The motor constantly cuts out, and as I mentioned the bike has two kids on it and I’m schlepping up a steep grade; it makes for a very unpleasant experience.
One more thing specific to walk assist... you're stuck with that, too I think. Walk assist is something whose features are mandated ... by German law I think. It requires you hold down the button for 3 seconds and then the motor provides assist to 6 km/h, halting instantly when the finger comes off the button. However, it seems as if over in China where that controller is developed they don't make the distinction between 6 km/h and 6 mph. They just have it engage to '6'. If you are in the USA and set the display to Imperialist units, you get 6 mph which is just a bit too fast to walk alongside, and as it runs away from you, you have to let that button go. Does that sound familiar? Maybe this doesn't happen universally, but its been the case for my Bafang and KT controllers.
 
With a Mid walk assist goes thru the gears, so speed an torque can be regulated and the bike can be shifted as you walk.
 
The "Rads" are dumbed down a bit, if its the 750 watt motor" you can install a beefier stator which has quite a bit more torque( drop in BTW even the 500 watt ones can be beefed up) with the controller and stator upgrade this thing will feel like a different beast, "Citizen cycle" even does a soup up on a bike similarly equipped and it made quite a difference, I like the looks of those orange rads It seems the "Rads" are dumbed down a bit for CYA( Kyle Chittick does a youtube episode on souping up the "Rads)
 
Look at the torque. How much torque does the bike output? I had a quick look online for the Wagon 4 and read 40 NM of torque. Very low torque for pushing up a hill with cargo. I would recommend looking at a bike (rear or mid drive) over 50 NM of torque. 60 NM be better. I have an enduro ebike that pushes 90 NM for technical climbing (over obstacles while doing a hill climb off trail). 90 NM will be more than you need.
 
A mid-drive motor would solve your problems climbing hills. Depending on your financing it might be better to sell your current cargo bike and find a mid-drive variant of that bike style. If you have a good e-bike mechanic in your area he can do the conversion on your current bike if you prefer that bike. It would involve the installation of a BBSHD/BBS02 bafang mid-drive motor on the bottom bracket and an installation of a rear cassette and/or removal the rear hub motor.
The problem with rear hub motors is they do not take advantage of the rear gears for climbing steep hills. You can throw more wattage at the rear hub motor but now you're sacrificing battery life and this reduces the range of the battery.
I also know a few people whom specialize with mid-drive installations they can do the build for you.

 
Last edited:
A conversion of that Wagon would be tough. Mostly because of that oddball wheel size and the implications for the future with it, but also you'll have extra work and cost buying peripherals that aren't meant to work with the controller you'll have to discard. You already know the tire/wheel story I am sure. I did a series on turning a Mongoose Envoy into a really excellent cargo bike, but I don't haul kids, and that bike has 26" wheels which does not go ideally with squirmy little ones. Still, maybe something like this will give you some ideas for an alternative.
C'mon. Tough but not that tough. For a mid drive, all you would need is a decent hub with the same number of spoke holes (not that big a deal), then use the OEM rim over again with a new set of spokes. If there's an issue, I'm missing it....

As far as the durability of the RAD Wagon platform from an upgrade standpoint, I doubt seriously that would be an issue....

That OEM battery has plenty of poop available. I used one with my MAC 12t w/35a controller without issue for years now. Is there better? Sure, but let's use what we have here. It should be more than adequate for the job at hand.

I don't see this as particularly tough conversion at all....
 
The BBS02 is a good option, yet it does not have much 'feel' for an avid cyclist. See OP. It can be what is called 'ghost ridden' that is it will go full speed while slowly pedaling. There is a disconcerting disconnect between pedal speed (cadence) and chainring speed. Good torque sensor systems retain feel, because cadence is the same as chainring speed. Good ones measure pedal pressure and cadence. Good ones feel like playing an acoustic instrument that is amplified and can climb a wall. There is nothing 'wrong' with a Bafang it is just sort of last decade. No majors use only cadence sensors today, just the low grade bikes. Beginners like them.
 
Back