A little over a year ago, the Rad Lab’s design team was going over a few sketches when one member of the crew offered a tongue-in-cheek suggestion.
“Since our bikes are aimed at replacing the family station wagon,” they said, “why don’t we just go all out and add wood paneling?”
It got a few laughs and the team kept chugging along, but the idea stood out to Industrial Designer Jake Silsby.
“Our accessories are all about tailoring the bike to the experience the rider wants to have,” he told us. “If that means developing something that’ll give their bike a unique, vintage look, that would definitely be something worth exploring.”
As time went on, Silsby kept on coming back to the concept. His mind turned to the woodie wagons made popular by the California surf culture of the 1950s. What if he could adapt that look to a modern electric bike?
The RadRunner seemed to be an ideal candidate for this. After all, it was a fun, casual bike that shared some immediate similarities with the woodie wagon.
As Silsby tells it, wood-paneled cars made a big splash in the 1930s, but after traditional consumers moved on, they found a big second life on the used car market -- especially among surfers.
“That’s because they were versatile. You could easily fit a surfboard and a ton of gear in the back of those things,” he explained. “That’s where it ties into the RadRunner. The bike’s about doing your own thing, making it cool, and, most of all, utility. Sure, we don't have the surfboard rack for it yet, but our riders are finding a whole lot of ways to use this bike.”
“It’s made of real wood. It’s not a sticker or applied vinyl to metal or anything like that. As a design team, we always try to stay true to the materials. If you can get the real thing, don’t fake it.”
“That adds to the nostalgia,” he added. “It’s perfect for anybody looking to have a little fun by customizing their bike and making it their own.”
For some riders, Silsby noted, adding the panels will be just the beginning. Members of the RadLab who’ve affixed them to their Runners, for instance, have started slapping stickers from nearby breweries or local bands on them.
“When you see your bike in the rack lined up next to the others, you’re going to see how unique it is. You’re going to know it’s yours right away.”
Of course, the designer acknowledged that some riders are going to naturally ask what the panels actually do.
To that, Silsby had a quick reply.
“It adds some extra character to the bike and a little bit of a throwback. It doesn’t have to do much other than look cool. Bikes are fun, you know?”