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Friday, April 12, 2024

Rad Energy Bikes debuts fire-resistant batteries — and 4 new e-bike fashions

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As electrical bikes change into extra widespread within the US, the chance of lethal fires stemming from cheaply made batteries has change into an unlucky aspect impact that dangers derailing the momentum of an important climate change fighting tool. That helps clarify why Rad Energy Bikes, the main e-bike producer within the US, is releasing new battery know-how that it says may also help usher in a brand new period of security for the trade.

In the present day, the corporate is saying 4 new fashions with new state-of-the-art batteries designed to raised stop malfunctions that may trigger the kinds of fires which are changing into more and more widespread amongst cheaper e-bike manufacturers.

The brand new fashions embody a refreshed RadWagon, the corporate’s bestselling electrical cargo bike, in addition to the RadExpand, its folding bike. And there are two brand-new fashions: the Radster Highway and Radster Path. Every bike will characteristic the Seattle-based firm’s new “Protected Defend”-branded batteries with “thermal resistant know-how” designed to forestall battery fires.

All of Rad’s new batteries will sport the Protected Defend branding.

The batteries

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Rad completed this by injecting an epoxy resin into the battery cells, which it claims will stop a chemical response within the battery that may trigger it to warmth as much as the purpose of exploding, often known as a thermal runaway.

“The explanation for that resin is to assist thermal propagation,” stated Sarah Bruce Courtney, head of product growth at Rad Energy Bikes, in an interview. “So with an encapsulation, we’re really serving to shield moisture ingress and corrosion. It’s additionally defending our cells, so it’s really serving to isolate any thermal exercise that may occur throughout the battery cell itself.”

“It’s really serving to isolate any thermal exercise that may occur throughout the battery cell itself”

Poorly made e-bike batteries have been implicated in quite a few lethal fires throughout the US and the UK. In New York Metropolis alone, the place tens of 1000’s of supply employees journey round on e-bikes on daily basis, dozens of individuals have been killed in fires linked to defective lithium-ion batteries.

New York Metropolis officers are cracking down, requiring e-bikes to be UL-certified and organising public charging areas to forestall supply employees from charging their batteries in residential house buildings utilizing noncompliant gear. Different cities are contemplating extra punitive measures, indicating that fireplace fears might show to be a serious disruption for the e-bike trade.

Up to now, there has solely been one reported incident of a Rad e-bike allegedly catching fireplace, although the corporate denies it. (It later reached a settlement with State Farm insurance coverage on behalf of the householders who declare their home was broken.) The corporate has shipped over 600,000 bikes in its historical past, largely to prospects within the US. Nonetheless, the corporate says it’s decided to steer by instance in adopting the brand new fire-resistant battery know-how.

Rad Energy Bikes has taken different security steps, together with shifting to the 21,700 cells (21mm in diameter and 70mm in size) from the 18,650 cells for its batteries and complying with UL safety certification for each its bikes and batteries. Courtney described the 21,700 cells as “the newer battery cell that loads of the automotive trade is transferring to,” with extra effectivity inbuilt. Because of this, the corporate additionally moved from a 14 amp-hour battery to a 15 amp-hour one to accommodate the change in cell dimension.

“If we have a look at the batteries within the cells, they transcend any trade normal,” Rad Energy Bikes CEO Phil Molyneux stated in an interview.

The bikes

The brand new fashions which are being launched at this time in addition to the brand new battery know-how are all about “ushering in a brand new period for Rad,” Molyneux stated. With upgraded specs, a bevy of latest paint choices, and improved efficiency, the brand new fashions are meant to assist the corporate set the stage for a banner yr, he stated.

The Radster is the most recent mannequin to affix Rad’s lineup, and hallelujah, it comes with torque sensors. The extra pure really feel from torque sensors, versus cadence ones, is why most high-end manufacturers embody them, so it’s nice to see Rad be part of the fray.

The Radster is available in two variations, Path and Highway, for both off-road enjoyable or day by day commutes. It is going to even have the choice to toggle between Class 2 and Class 3 settings, which might permit it to achieve speeds of as much as 28mph. That may be too quick for some e-bikers, particularly these in Europe, the place Class 3 is basically nonexistent, however right here within the US, we love our velocity.

Along with the Radster, the corporate can also be releasing up to date variations of its widespread RadWagon cargo bike and RadExpand folding bike. The unique RadWagon helped kick off the electrical cargo bike revolution within the US when it was first launched in 2015. Now in its fifth technology, the brand new RadWagon can have higher dealing with, elevated payload capability, and a entrance suspension (one other hallelujah for that) for a smoother journey.

To enhance rider management and stability, Rad condensed the body and lowered the bike’s heart of gravity in order that it will possibly now accommodate a wider vary of rider sizes. The RadWagon’s motor may draw extra power from the battery to generate extra torque for higher hill climbing, even whereas hauling a heavy load. And it’ll additionally have the ability to toggle between Class 2 and three, relying on velocity preferences.

Lastly, the RadExpand 5 Plus is newly improved with extra payload capability and hydraulic entrance suspension for a smoother journey. And all of Rad’s new fashions are getting a full-color show with USB-C charging capabilities and rear flip indicators.

The RadWagon 5 will retail for $2,199, whereas the Radster will begin at $1,999 and the RadExpand at $1,899. All 4 fashions will likely be accessible to ship to prospects later this spring.

However the brand new batteries particularly are supposed to place the corporate on the forefront of the trade when it comes to security. Molyneux stated the corporate would prolong its present one-year guarantee on all of its bikes to 2 years as an indication of renewed confidence within the product. And the hope is that different firms will observe swimsuit, which ought to assist discourage property house owners and cities from passing rules to ban e-bikes altogether.

“We now have to bang the drum and say, ‘Okay, there’s higher methods to do that,’” Molyneux stated.

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