Skip to main content

Photo of Rad Power 5 by Electric Bike Report. Almost all eBikes that are available in the US are made off shore, principally China. ‘The company, which Radenbaugh [Rad Power Bikes] says operates at about break-even, currently offers 11 e-bike models and plans to add more in the future. And after years of relying on manufacturing in China, Rad Power Bikes has plans to bring some of its manufacturing capabilities to North America and Europe in the near future.’The Verge

My curiosity got the best of me 

TJ, visiting in Florida.

By TJ Douglas

I was on my way to fish public lands and some adjoining leased range lands in Idaho – all roughly bordering the Big Lost. Getting there via my vintage 4 X 4 Suburban converted into an RV. 

The shortest route from Ketchum, Idaho, to the Big Lost is via Trail Creek over a high-elevation mountain range passage that can be risky, especially if you disregard ‘Road Blocked’ signage. The heavy snowpack and rock slides last any year into June. Nevertheless, I made it easily in early June of 2021.

Landing at Big Lost

I was familiar with both forks of the Big Lost and feed-in creeks like Deer Creek. Over many seasons, I had mapped out hot spots and public land accesses, and those so-called unauthorized entry on leased grazing ranch land. However, I have witnessed ranchers whose properties straddle the rivers without issue. I think my friendly wave, visible fly rods, big ass wolf-like dog, T-Bone, and because it was Idaho, they left me alone.

For as long as I can remember, Idaho has been the homecourt for hate groups, ultra-right wing Republicans like the the Bundy’s and QAnon cultists. My holstered 45 caliber canon may have influenced the return grins and waves. I was a perfectly dressed mimic of the state’s famed whackos – a white male, camo dressed, armed, and with a killer-sized dog. 

It was a Wednesday, and I planned on staying through Saturday morning; I had a good spot picked for overnighting at the end of that first day. It had the semblance of a fire pit I’d restored years prior and a postcard mountain range view from around 6,000-foot elevation. 


On my first night, I had guests. They arrived in a Class B RV with two eBikes hanging off the rear bumper on racks. They were not amateur campers; they waved a friendly hello from a 100-yards away after setting up a grill on a slideout tray from their RV. It was a cook station and the grilling smelled like steaks. They shared bottle of red wine before darkness set in. They, too, were armed and made sure I saw that. Again, it was Idaho.

The fishing routine in the morning was good with two rainbows, a brookie, and a cutthroat, all on Prince nymphs until late afternoon when a hatch filled the air. Still, when my mayfly-caddis-midge imitations of pupa, and emergers along with color and hook size changeouts, I couldn’t compete. So I finally went with a small olive #14 Woolly with a bit of wire weight, fished mid-column in bug-less voids, and picked up four ambitious but small, native cutthroat trout.

Another good off-road, fat tire e-Bike with a mid-drive – Quiet Kat.- a better balanced bike and ride, and more powerful than mid-motor drives. Above, the accoutrements that an angler could use and tent-camp out for a several days. Most manufactures state their lithium batteries will last for 3,000 charge cycles, which equates to lasting 8.2 years if you used it everyday, traveled between 20 and 40 miles per day X 365 days each year. Basically, not an issue you need to worry about. The eBike shown without any of the attachments costs $6,000, just the bike.

T-Bone falls in love

In the evening I hoisted a 1.5L magnum of a decent red aloft when the couple looked my way. I got an immediate ‘come-on-down.’ I arrived with a tight-to-the-leg T-Bone and some good brie and crackers. The eBikers, Aaron and Maddie Costello, chipped in fresh grapes, chunked-up Granny Smiths, and brought out gourmet cheeses.

T-Bone got to be petted for an hour while we all hung out on a blanket wearing heavy sweaters, chatting about flies, fly fishing experiences, eBikes, and recent reads that settled on Harrison.

The young campers were Californians, tree huggers, avid fly fishers, and techies. I revealed to them a few of my lesser hotspots, and they had already been there the day of our mutual arrival. As we ended the evening, I realized they had covered many more spots utilizing their eBikes. With a 4×4 vehicle, parking and walking couldn’t cover half of what the Costello’s did.

The next night we repeated the evening before, and no one was happier about that than T-Bone. The Costello’s were so knowledgeable about eBikes that we spent much of the evening discussing them. I was impressed and vowed to buy one. What convinced me to get an eBike was that they fished more turf in two days than I would in four, which perplexed me. But, again, my curiosity got the best of me.

We bid farewell that night, they were headed to Maddie’s parents in Mackay [pronounced ‘Mackie’], Idaho, in the morning, and I had two more full Big Lost days. 

On the drive back, I thought . . . 

I could rack the bike on the back of the Suburban – they only weighed about 70-pounds, and  T-bone could ride in what the Costello’s called a pull-trailer – similar to that pictured above.

I ordered my eBike, having been able to limit my Google search because of the Costello’s help.

My eBike:

The Rad Power 5 hub-motor e-Bike was not what would have been best for me because I’m 6’4’ and 225 pounds, and the hub-motor eBike does not provide the best balanced bike, and has less power [see video comparison]. 

Male March Brown Dun Mayfly. Illustration provided courtesy of Thom Glace.

This is how I decided: 

I couldn’t afford a mid-motor Quiet Kat like eBike. A hub-motor e-Bike is not what would have been best for me because of my size, and the hub-motor eBike would not provide the best balance because an upright ride and the motor to the rear put most of the weight on the rear tire which would create balancing issues in turns and bumps. I parsed it all down to the Rad Power 5 having the best specs to manage my weight, height, and age issues.

You probably ditched your bike when you got a drivers license like I did. Now, a hundred years later I got a bike. I was nervous, and was told the only thing new was setting the peddle-assist speed at the get-go. So, when you get on the bike, don’t set the assist at max or you’ll leave the starting gate as if shot from a rocket. Set peddle-assist at the lowest setting to start with. It  will be faster than your initial peddling, but it’s not going to ‘buck’ you off.

So, an eBike is exactly like riding a bike. You peddle to engage the hub motor assist. You scale up or down that peddle-assist to meet you needs – a steep incline may require max power assist, and downhill no assist.

The brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is a species of freshwater fish in the salmon family Salmonidae. Originally assigned trout status and now Salvelinus, a char. They are native, historically present in northeastern America, but now span the globe. The watercolor (Study of Eastern Brook Trout) was provided courtesy of artist Thom Glace.

Getting comfortable to be back on a bike after a hundred and fifty year layoff took me 6- or 7-minutes, maybe less, not more 

√ Hub powered motor eBikes are cheaper than mid-drive powered motor eBikes. The Rad Power 5 had everything I wanted.

√ Rad Power hub motor eBikes accommodated my size and protected my balance issues [75 years old] well enough to call it safe for me on dicey ground cover already covered.

√ Rad Power 5 hub motor eBike warranty proved to me I had financial security.

√ The Rad Power eBike company might be better armed to survive a faltering economy and delivery-chain issues [not that it couldn’t happen]. They seem to be prepared and ready to ship almost immediately – ready to plug and play with all basic body parts and accessories. Many others eBikes I liked were a month or more out, and didn’t come with all the body parts I consider essentials.

The performance of my Rad Power 5 has been as expected, which means it can handle a big, senior person with sub-par balance. Also, the bike can manage any incline I’ve met up with so far, it dispatches dealing with wet, rocky, grassy ground, beach sand, and low flow streams without causing unmanageable problems for me.

√ I have fished as far as 8-miles from my parked Suburban. That included walking the bike through forest too thick to ride.

√ My Armour tire protection proved as valuable as a COVID shot. A puncture did no harm.

Silhouette of cyclist on beach against backdrop of sunset at sea shore

A day at the beach. Envato image.

After the check clears:

  1. Tools needed along with each ride: Allen wretches packet and keys for locks.
  2. Where to put fly rods: Strap two upright on the rear wheel in rod holders Bungee corded, and tenkara, or pack rods on the front rack inline with handlebars.  
  3. Security: ABUS – see Propel video. Think about portability. You don’t want to carry a 20-pound chain lock into a restaurant, ride with it for 5/6 hours, or carry it while fishing.
  4. Travel bike rack: Hollywood [Google Hollywood eBike hitch rack], or Google Swingaway eBike rack.
  5. Flat tires: Tonnus Armour – you’ll want this.
  6. Insurance: Inquire with your insurer [look for callout on not included if power cutting tools used to steal].
  7. Lithium batteries: Lithium powers all electric bikes and can be damaged at near-zero Fahrenheit temperatures.
  8. Rear rack: Allows bungee tie downs to be secured.

Specifications for my Rad 5:

Motor: 750W geared hub motor and a 48V, 14Ah lithium-ion battery.

Shifter: Seven-speed Shimano drivetrain and 80nm torque geared hub motor.

Weight: 70-pounds

Speed: 20 mph

Recharge: 5/6 hours – regular US wall socket.

Tires: Fat nobby 4”

Wheels: 26” 

Ride: Upright [most comfortable] like all regular peddle European bikes.

Welcome to the new land skiff



Author Skip

More posts by Skip

Leave a Reply