The CEO of Rad Power Bikes, the leading electric bicycle company in North America, just sent out a mass email committing to changes that it says will strengthen the company’s focus on safety, reliability, and customer service.
“A new era of innovation.” That’s what was emblazoned across the top of the email that landed in my inbox, along with presumably hundreds of thousands of other inboxes across Rad Power Bike’s vast rider base.
The email from Rad Power Bikes’ new CEO Phil Molyneux explained that Rad was entering a “new era.” It began with an explanation of how he was brought on board by Rad’s founder and previous CEO, Mike Radenbaugh.
Molyneux, who came to Rad after leadership positions at Sony and Dyson, took the wheel at a time when Rad was already navigating several different storms. The company’s e-cargo bike known as the RadWagon – which was likely the most popular long tail cargo e-bike in North America – was recalled due to an issue with its wheels. The company is also in the midst of multiple lawsuits ranging from a battery fire to a tragic underage riding death.
Molyneux addressed the company’s hardships:
“Since its inception, Rad Power Bikes has set both the pace and the standard for the ebike revolution. This road hasn’t always been easy and we’ve faced numerous challenges.
As a young company, we recognize that we have made mistakes. Now we are dedicated to learning from them.
The culmination of these efforts represents the ‘New Rad,’ one that combines the forward-thinking innovation of our early years with the knowledge and resources to make us more customer-focused than ever before.”
The first area addressed by Molyneux was related to product safety and reliability, to which Rad will be applying a “laser focus.”
As Molyneux continued:
“From the design phase, through component validation methods, to the ever-improving quality assurance activities within our factories, we are doubling down to ensure safer, more enjoyable rides.”
Next on the list was a doubling down on customer service to ensure shorter wait times and more effective assistance for riders.
We acknowledge that there is still room for growth in our customer support operations and are actively working to improve them. For those who need to connect with a Rad specialist, we are continuing to explore ways we can provide more immediate help, including a new chat function that we launched in December. In addition, we will be revamping our online help center to make it easier for you to find the self-help resources you need to keep riding. As we implement these remedies throughout the year, we hope that you’ll notice the difference the next time you reach out to us for assistance.
That one is even more interesting consider the massive size of the Rad Power Bikes customer service team. The company employed several hundred customer service representatives before recent layoff rounds, though that number is still likely in the triple digits.
To put that into perspective, Rad’s customer service team alone is likely larger than all of the employees at the next largest North American e-bike company.
Rad’s position at the top of the North American e-bike market was hard fought, resulting in e-bikes from Rad finding their way into over half a million homes and counting.
Despite the hardships that the company is currently facing, Molyneux has made it clear that Rad intends to do what it takes to maintain its standing and shore up the faith that its customers have long put in the company.
The end of 2022 definitely saw stormier seas than Rad had hoped for. The company is still the largest e-bike manufacturer in North America and has continued to roll out new models throughout the year. But between the one-off legal issues and getting bogged down with having to recall thousands of e-bikes while finding a technical solution to get them back on the road has surely prevented Rad from delivering the kind of experience they’ve set out to provide.
In my opinion, Rad always stood for two things: Building affordably priced e-bikes that got quality vehicles into riders hands, and advocacy for e-biking as an alternative to car use, and I haven’t seen that change in any major way.
Sure, we’ve heard of issues of part reliability stacking up recently, and that’s something that Rad certainly has to address. But the company has by and large been known for good products with effective US-based service, especially in comparison to the many flight-by-night Asian e-bike companies whose bikes tend to breakdown in a matter of months and who don’t have anyone available to pickup a phone when riders need support for those bikes.
In comparison, I’ve beaten the hell out of my 26-month-old RadMission e-bike and it’s still riding great, though of course anecdotal evidence is merely evidence of an anecdote.
Sure, Rad is no longer the most affordable option on the block now that many other companies with leaner operations and lower-cost e-bike alternatives have popped up in recent months and years, but the prices are still quite competitive.
Rad has also often led the industry in new designs over the years. After the RadRunner e-bike came out, we saw plenty of RadRunner imitations. After the RadTrike came out, we quickly saw trike competitors. It’s pretty obvious that Rad still leads the industry, not just in bike volume but also in bike direction. (And it’s probably worth pointing out that RadRunner imitations from competitors have been literally breaking in half, while Rad’s bikes have been going strong for years).
If Rad can double down now on the areas that need improvement to in order to maintain those key areas of strength for the company, then I don’t see any reason they can’t maintain their status as something of a city on a hill in the e-bike world.