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Everything‌ ‌You‌ ‌Need‌ ‌To‌ ‌Know‌ ‌When‌ ‌Buying‌ ‌Electric‌ ‌Tricycle‌

Posted by Dina Llobero on

You may not have even thought about sitting on a trike since you were a kid, but they are becoming very popular among adults. This eco-friendly way to travel is popular for seniors as it is less of a strain on your body. It’s also great and fun, but only if you make the right choice of the trike.

There are some key considerations for people thinking of taking up life on three wheels. It might surprise you how many options you’ve got. Read on to gain the knowledge to find a trike that is ideal for you.

What is an Electric Tricycle?

An e trike is very similar to an e-bike, but with an extra wheel. The trike has two rear wheels and one front wheel, but both have the significant addition that makes life so much easier; a motor.

The trike’s motor will kick in and start to assist your power as soon as you start to pedal. This means you can go further, faster, with less effort.

Rules about electric trikes vary depending on where you live, but in the majority of the US, and beyond, they are not treated as vehicles. The fact you still have to give propulsion yourself by pedaling means that the trikes fall under the same legal categories as bikes.

How They Work

Electric models of trike use two different sensors, torque, and speed. The mechanical process is very simple:

  1. When you start to pedal, the speed sensor picks up the fact that you’re moving and sends a signal to the motor to start to give you electric assistance.
  2. The torque sensor responds to match your speed as you move. It helps to regulate the speed and maneuvers that you perform on your trike.
  3. The motor creates a level of power assist. You can choose how much assistance you want from your motor based on your experience or even how tired you are. Electric motors can control the torque and therefore give you a power boost. It can feel almost effortless as you glide away on three wheels.
  4. The motor draws power from the battery. A lithium-ion battery is similar to the one in your mobile phone. You can plug it in and charge it like you would any other electronic device. This is better for the environment in general, but even more, if you can use a renewable source of energy such as solar power.
  5. To ride your tricycle, just choose your level of motor assist and start pedaling. It’s easy to get started.

Who Are Electric Trikes Best For?

Electric trikes may look and feel cool to ride, but their functionality means they are also the ideal option for certain people.

Firstly, it is a good idea to consider electric trikes for seniors. A lot of elderly people who find it difficult to ride a bike or electric bike are moving to e-trikes. This is due to the extra level of stability, and the fact that you can use the trike in a recumbent position. You don’t have to shift your body weight and balance to turn corners. For some seniors, it is an alternative to a mobility scooter. As well as the comfortable seating position and stability on three wheels, the extra power can help seniors to get around more easily.

Electric cargo trikes with carriers also provide a convenient way to deliver items, or food, around a town or city. The electric motor can help people who would otherwise have to propel their trike with no help. If you’re doing deliveries all day, every day, this can get tiring. A lot of trikes have baskets and storage space, but to maximize space you should get a specific electric cargo trike. Some cargo trikes can even allow you to take a passenger, such as a child.

There are some key benefits to buying a motorized trike, no matter your age and requirements:

  • They’re easier on your joints. The help you get from the motor means that you don’t have to use as much energy or put as much strain on your joints and muscles.
  • A trike offers plenty of stability. The extra wheel and larger frame mean that it is much harder to tip. It’s easier to stay securely balanced while riding. For seniors, this is very beneficial.
  • They’re more environmentally friendly. Less concern about your carbon footprint. 
  • It’s easy to get on and off. If you have a trike with a recumbent seat (most electric trikes have these) then you will find it easier to mount and dismount. The seats are lower to the ground, so you don’t have to climb up like you would on a bike.
  • You won’t have to get a license or insurance. You can go relatively quickly, with the help of a motor, without having to take lessons or pay monthly for insurance. 
  • You can still get exercise. You can choose the level of assistance you need from the motor. This means that you still need to pedal and get some exercise, but not to overexert yourself. 
  • It is far easier to carry cargo than it is with a bike, and not to have to adjust your riding style to do so. Many electric trikes come with baskets or specific carriers for cargo.

Drifting Trikes - What is the Difference?

Some people are looking for an electric drift tricycle rather than an electric trike for everyday transport. What’s the difference? Well, people who love “drifting” will tell you that it is a very different prospect! These are some key differences:

  • Drifting usually involves some form of racing, and speed is the main consideration. Riders let the back wheels “drift” meaning they lose control of them. This is similar to rally driving.
  • Drifting trikes are really designed for the track or in a controlled environment like a specifically-made course. They don’t carry any of the benefits for seniors.
  • Drifting trikes for adults have a seat that is very low to the ground. This makes it hard to mount and dismount. The unstable nature also means that you can easily fall off. The battery doesn’t last as long due to the high speeds you will be going at.

There’s no denying that drifting can be really good fun, but don’t get a drifting trike and a standard electric trike confused, as they are very different in what they offer.

Things to Consider Before Buying 

There are a few things that you should think about before you take the plunge and buy a trike of any variety. Before delving into which e-trike you should buy, think about whether this is the right option for you.

Storage

Electric trikes are large. Consider the PFIFF Scooter Trike, which is 16 inches in the front and 20 inches in the rear. You also need to think about whether there is extra storage on the trike. All of this requires a safe and secure space to store the product. 

If you have a garage, and plenty of space to store your trike, this is probably something that is not an issue. However, if you live in a small, one-bedroom apartment, think about where your trike is going to go while not in use.

Outdoor storage isn’t always an option, especially not for the battery of the tricycle. If you store outside in extreme temperatures, it can make the battery degrade much more quickly. This can lead to more maintenance and costly repairs. 

Cost

Electric tricycles aren’t cheap. They usually cost more than an e-bike, which makes sense, they use a lot of extra equipment in the construction. If you are going to buy one, keep in mind the fact that it is going to cost you thousands of dollars. 

On the expensive end of the market, some trikes may cost over $5,000. For this sort of price, expect to get a lot of features and functionality as well as a reliable electric trike.

The cost also needs to be weighed up against other expenses. For example, if you are currently spending money on a taxi fare to get somewhere, but you intend to take your trike in the future, it could save you money on a daily basis.

How to Choose an E Tricycle for You

When you’re spending all of that money, you must make sure you get the right model for you. If you compare a drifting trike to a cargo trike and then compare it to a mobility e-trike for seniors. These trikes all have different designs and features.

Motor Power

Motor size and power are important to electric tricycles and dictates how fast you can go. E-trikes tend to have a 200-250W motor. Modern electric motors are brushless, and they work more efficiently than brushed motors did. 

If you don’t know a lot about motors, these figures might not mean much to you. In layman’s terms, this will usually result in a maximum speed of around 12-15 MPH, depending on the size and weight of the trike itself. Many trikes also have different levels. For example, a five-speed motor allows you to choose between these five different settings.

The motor power needs to be higher than it would for most e-bikes due to the fact that the actual vehicle is heavier. If you’re going up hills or through challenging terrain, this extra power is vital. Otherwise, it would be like trying to run a huge 4x4 truck with a motorcycle motor.

Some electric bikes will be faster than trikes because they are small and lightweight. You need to ensure you’ve got enough power in the motor to drive these large trikes forward and carry any cargo that you have on board.

Battery

The battery ties in with the motor. It gives power to the motor, so you don’t want to be stuck with a dead battery when you want to use your trike. If you don’t have a quality battery then you won’t be able to go far without needing to plug in your tricycle and charge it up again. This is frustrating if you are doing a lot of long rides.

Some people need to prioritize battery life. If you’re just going a couple of miles on your trike each day then you don’t have to worry about having a 30-mile range. However, what if you need the trike for deliveries? Many of the top trikes can take you 25-30 miles on a single charge. 

Build Quality, Frame, and Capacity

The frame of any e-bike or trike is important. Some trikes will rust quickly, especially when they are exposed to an environment such as rain and snow. Well-built trikes tend to come with sturdy steel frames. This does make them heavier, but this is essential to ensure a high capacity.

Try and find a trike that has an anti-corrosive coating. This will help it to avoid rust even after years of use. You might also think about welding. Quality TIG or MIG welding means that the joins are strong and less prone to breaking under pressure. This sort of information feels intimidating to beginners, but it is easy to read the product description and see how the trike is made. Trikes will also list their capacity. Think about the weight of the rider and cargo.

Display

The majority of electric trikes have LCD displays. These are a hub for the information you need. Good displays show things like speed, battery usage, the distance you have covered on a trip, and the battery life you have left to use. All of this helps you to plan your ride.

Ease, Mobility, and Accessibility

If you have mobility issues and want to use a trike to help you keep your independence then you should consider mobility features. You will want a trike that doesn’t have a high seat, so you don’t have to climb up onto it like you would with an e-bike. Recumbent seats are usually better for seniors.

Mid Drive vs Front Hub Motors

The location of the motor plays a big part in how the trike rides. Mid-drive motors are between the pedal and sit near the gears. They provide a lot more traction in some situations, such as in difficult or uneven terrain. The mid-drive motor will turn the crank instead of the front wheel so it will be more powerful.

Front hub motors sit on the front wheel and directly transfer power to the wheel. They’re easier from a maintenance point of view, as they don’t need much care at all. Because they don’t use the drivetrain, you’re not putting extra strain on the gears, and this also means less wear on the gears. Brushless hub motors don’t have moving parts, other than bearings. This means that they don’t wear out easily over time.

How to Maintain Your E Trike

To ensure that your electric tricycle lasts for a long time, and stays in good condition, you need to carry out some simple and basic maintenance tasks.

Your battery is the most important component when considering maintenance. You need to make sure that you keep it in good condition. Eventually, all batteries need to be replaced or reconditioned, but good habits keep batteries going longer. Try to keep your battery between 20% and 80% charged. If it continues to get too high, or too low, you can go through more “cycles” of battery life. This will make the bike battery health worsen far quicker.

Make sure you clean your trike after every use and carry out a thorough, deep clean periodically. It’s good to keep your trike looking good, but that isn’t the main reason to clean. As you ride, dirt and grit can get into the mechanism. If this dries and bakes on, it can damage the mechanism of your tricycle. 

Avoid pressure washing. This uses a lot of force, and this can actually damage the vehicle rather than helping.

You should also make sure you lubricate the chain regularly. How often you need to do this depends on how frequently you ride it. Once a month is a bare minimum. If you’re an experienced bike user, you will know how to lubricate a chain. 

How is Riding a Trike Different from an E-Bike?

If you are switching from two wheels to three, there is a big difference in the way you will ride. Some of the key alterations are below:

  • You have a much bigger turning circle. This means that when it is time to go around a bend or to turn a corner, you need to leave more space than you would on a bike.
  • You will notice needing more power going uphill. The trike’s motor will help you when you’re trying to propel yourself up the hill, but it can sometimes be slower. 
  • Your feet can stay on the pedals at all times. On a bike with two wheels, as you slow down or stop, you will need to put a foot on the ground to support you. The stability of the three wheels and wider frame means this isn’t needed. 
  • A trike has a wider “footprint”. When you’re riding, if you are used to the feel of a bike, you’ll be used to being narrow and nimble as you weave through the streets. Trikes can be 20 inches or more in width. This means you need to get used to the size and ensure you don’t bump into things.
  • Trikes usually have lower seats than bikes. It’s much easier to mount or to dismount than a bike, where the seat will be higher.

If you’re making the shift from an electric bike to a tricycle, there is an adjustment period. It is a good idea to head to an empty parking lot or private piece of land where you can ride around on your own and get used to the feel. It doesn’t take long to get to the point where you are comfortable.

What Are the Best Ages for Riding a Tricycle?

A lot of people have a perception of trikes being for kids because of the fact that a lot of us have a toy trike when we’re young. We’re talking about adult tricycles, and the truth is that they are suitable for any age. If you’re 18 or 80, a tricycle could be a suitable choice. 

Tricycles are great for seniors. It is much easier to mount and dismount and to balance. Plenty of seniors switch from a bike to a trike, using this extra wheel and large frame for stability. The lower, recumbent chair is good for providing more lumbar support. 

A trike doesn’t need you to lean into any cornering. You steer much like you would a car, rather than an e-bike, where you lean the whole frame as part of your turning and steering. This means a trike puts less physical strain on the body. They’re not just for people with mobility issues, and anyone can enjoy traveling on three wheels.

How Fast Can You Go on an E-Trike?

The speed of an electric trike depends on many different things. The motor power is key, but so is the weight of the bike, the weight of the cargo, and the weight of the rider. There are also settings that impact how quickly you are going to ride. For most trikes, 15 MPH is a good benchmark as a top speed. This is quick enough for most delivery drivers and riding around a city.

Riding your tricycle quickly will mean the battery power is used quicker. Keep this in mind if you have a long distance to cover. 

Summary

Make sure you think about every aspect of design before taking the plunge and buying your electric tricycle. For seniors, you might want to look out for recumbent seats to make it easier to mount and dismount. The  PFIFF Trike Recumbent Scooter is an example of a trike with a lower seat.

More people are converting to riding on three wheels instead of two. If you want the extra cargo space or stability of a tricycle, consider these vital considerations to ensure you get both a fun and functional model.

Take a look at our full line of electric trikes. We have different makes, models and types to fit each and every need: https://www.ebikejoy.com/collections/electric-trikes


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