Using an electric trike allows seniors and people with disabilities to enjoy the perks of riding a traditional bicycle. Since it has two wheels at the back, you won’t have to balance the bike and risk falling over. However, this does not imply that there are no safety concerns when riding one.
If you want to enjoy the amazing benefits that electric trikes can offer and prevent accidents, we list a few simple tips to help you.
Tips to Ride an Electric Trike Safely
1. Check Everything Before You Ride
The first thing that you need to do before you ride your e-trike is to make sure that everything is working properly. You don’t want to suffer from mechanical failures on the road simply because you failed to check it before you ride. So, what are the things that you need to look at?
- Look at your Tires: It is the most visible part of your electric trike so you need to check if it’s flat or the tire pressure is too high. Take note that you won’t get too far if even one of the tires is deflated. If it’s fully inflated, you might experience blowouts during the ride.
- Check the Brakes: One of the most common causes of bicycle accidents is the brakes. Most people ride their trikes without checking if the brakes are working or not. Press on the brakes and move the e-trike back and forth. If you’re able to move the trike while you’re holding the brakes, it means that it's faulty.
- Inspect the Signal lights: You need the signal light to indicate to others where you are going and to prevent accidents on the road. Make sure that they are all working before you ride.
- Test the pedal assist and thumb throttle: Before you ride your trike and run your errands, run it for a few yards in front of your house to check the pedal-assist or thumb throttle. This is done to ensure that you can accelerate properly on the road.
2. Be Visible on the Road
E-trikes sit very low and are small so if you’re driving on the road, most cars and trucks will have a hard time seeing you. Remember that accidents can also happen for other reasons than the driver’s fault. They can also happen by other vehicles so you need to make sure that they can see you and your trike is visible. Here are a few tips that you can follow:
- Attach a flag to your e-trike: The flag should stick up a few feet up to make sure that even truck drivers can see you. There are instances where they won’t even notice you on the side mirrors so the flag should reflect light when driving at night. You can opt for bright yellow or green during daytime.
- Put a rear light on your helmet: The highest point when you’re driving an e-trike is your head so you can place a blinking light there. This will signal to the other motorists that someone is driving at the side.
- Wear high-visibility colors: The clothes you wear can also be a safety measure when driving on the road. You should wear colors that other people can easily notice, especially on the torso.
3. Learn About the Rules of the Road
Every state has its own set of laws on the road. However, there are some basic rules that you need to know when you’re driving an electric bicycle or an e-trike on the road.
Yield to Pedestrians and Other Vehicles
It’s very important to know that the road is meant for the bigger vehicles. Although bikes are allowed on the roadway, you need to yield when there are pedestrians or vehicles ahead of you.
Go with the Flow of Traffic
You should always travel in the same direction as the flow of traffic. Make sure that you stay on the right side of the road because the left side is supposed to be for faster vehicles. Since e-trikes are not too fast, you need to use the right side of the lane most of the time unless there are hindrances on the road.
Never Ride on the Sidewalk
The sidewalks are meant for pedestrians. If you ride your e-trike there, it is possible to encounter an accident. You may accidentally bump someone or be hit by a turning vehicle. It is safer to ride on the road as you are more visible to the other cars and trucks.
Follow Traffic Signs and Signals
Most of the traffic violations when driving a car are also applicable to cyclists. Proceeding even if the red light is on, entering a crosswalk when pedestrians are crossing, and more are all violations. Always follow the traffic signs as it is meant to keep you and other people safe. This is also to avoid any serious injuries when an accident occurs.
Use Hand Signals
Unlike cars and other vehicles, most bikes don’t have any signal lights. Some e-trikes have turn signals, but they are not too noticeable so you need to use hand signals to tell them what you’re going to do. If you’re going to turn right, you can use your hands to signal that you’re turning right.
Aside from these basic laws, some states have implemented a few stricter regulations when you’re riding a bike. Most states require the drivers to wear a helmet for safety purposes. There are also places where there is an intended bicycle lane and you’re not allowed to move to the road unless it’s necessary. Some states also prohibit cycling under the influence.
4. Beware of Road Hazards
Road hazards can cause accidents not only to larger vehicles but also to smaller ones like e-bikes. Since you are using this particular model with two wheels at the back, it is harder to maneuver. You can easily make a swift turn when you’re on a bicycle, but it is harder to do that when driving an e-trike. There is a big possibility that you will still hit the obstacle even if you swerve the front wheel.
The best thing to do is to always keep your eyes on the road and look ahead. You can see signs if there is road going on.
5. Never Go Too Fast
It’s a fact that e-trikes are not too fast as they are limited by the amount of power their engine can offer. However, these bikes can run for about 15 miles per hour or even more depending on the type of model you’re using.
You should also remember that even with a good braking system, you won’t be able to go on a full stop if someone suddenly crosses the road or the vehicle in front of you suddenly made a sudden halt.
It is not advisable to turn fast when riding an e-trike. Compared to bicycles with only two wheels, the extra wheel at the back will make it hard for you to maneuver it. Bikes are meant for leisure travel so you should never run fast with them.
6. Use your Side Mirrors
Your side mirrors should always be used at all times, especially when you’re on the main road. Cars and trucks will suddenly appear on the sides so you should always glimpse at the side mirror to check your back.
Checking the side-view mirrors before moving to a different lane is a must. A lot of accidents happened because the cyclist failed to check their side mirrors. Normal bikes don’t have side mirrors, but electric trikes do so use them wisely.
7. Be Ready to Take More Space
E-trikes are wider compared to bicycles. They usually take the space of two bikes on the road so you need to get used to the amount of space that it needs. Plan your routes because there are alleys that are too narrow for an electric trike.
Buying an Electric Trike
Now that you fully understand how to drive safely when you’re using an e-trike, it is time to get one for yourself. Like other vehicles, it comes with a variety of features that are pretty difficult to understand if you’re not an enthusiast. If you want to find the best one, here are some of the things that you need to consider.
1. How Do You Plan to Use the E-Trike?
E-trikes come in a wide range of designs and models with very specific uses. It’s the reason why you need to take some time and learn about its features before you buy.
- If you’re buying one for mobility and comfort, there are trikes with a lower step-through frame and also smaller wheels. This will allow you to ride and step down from the bike with ease.
- For the people who need to cover long distances, getting one with a 500-watt motor and a bigger lithium-ion battery will do the trick. It can provide enough power to provide the speed that you need and to last longer on the road.
- People who live in hilly areas can choose a mid-drive motor with 350 watts or higher. This is the best wattage for this type of terrain.
- If the bike is used for work, a dual-battery model will do the trick along with extra cargo capacity. It is best to get a rugged frame with fat tires to make sure that your bike can last for a long time.
2. Take a Test Drive
Before you buy one, you should do a test drive so you can pick a model that would suit you best. There are no technical features that you need to check. It is more about the comfort of using an electric tricycle. This is very important if it’s your first time driving an e-trike. You need to know how it feels to ride it so you won’t be surprised after buying the bike.
3. Buy Online Within the USA
It’s very easy to get tricked when it comes to price. You will notice that some brands are cheaper when you buy them from a different country. Well, this is only true while the e-bike is still functioning properly. Once a problem occurs, the replacement parts or service from another country will be very hard to come by.
Warranty claims are nearly impossible when buying them from a different country. Remember that no matter how careful you are in using it, problems will still occur after a while.
When it comes to batteries, quality should be your main priority. The batteries will be responsible for running the engine of your bike so you need to look for the best one in the market.
Lithium-ion batteries are very common as they are the best option right now. Higher quality batteries can recharge faster, it is lighter as well, and the batteries will last longer. A typical battery can only last for about 700 to 800 recharge cycles or around 3 years. If you have the money, then it’s better to buy the best quality batteries so you won’t have to replace them often.
The range of an electric bike will depend on the size of your battery and motor, your weight, and the pedal assist level that you set. If you’re going to buy a powerful motor, make sure that you get a bigger battery to go along with it. Take note that it will immediately drain a normal battery so you should get a bigger one. This will determine the amount of mileage your e-trike can cover in a single battery charge.
Safety takes precedence more than anything else so before you buy your own electric trike, you should know how to drive it the right way. Riding an e-trike is perfectly safe, but a lot of unpredictable events can happen on the road. Review the signs and signals in the road and try to learn how to safely ride your tricycle so you can go around your neighborhood without worries.
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