- A heavy duty electric trike with five levels of pedal assist, instant-power trigger throttle, adjustable top speed (the default is 16 mph for safety), large 180mm disc brakes, motor inhibitors on both brake levers
- Comes with durable plastic fenders on all three wheels, a full-surround chain cover, three integrated LED lights, reflective tires, and a heavy-duty steel mesh basket with bamboo deck
- Maximum weight rating of 400lbs, available in two colors (gloss white or green), approachable step-thru frame, comfortable oversized saddle, ergonomic grips, and high-rise handlebar
- This trike is fairly expensive and, like most trikes, heavy at ~85lbs, the two battery bays use separate keys and can be a hassle to reach since they're mounted low, some assembly required when buying online
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I think that electric trikes are great because they empower riders with limited stability and energy to stay mobile, spend time outdoors, and be independent! It’s more fun than a mobility scooter… which tend to cost more, weigh more, and go a lot slower. While the EVELO Compass isn’t the cheapest product I’ve covered, the $3.3k price point is decidedly higher than many of the hub motor powered electric trikes I’ve reviewed in the past, it does offer quality and performance that many of them lack. This electric trike uses a mid-drive motor, offers a three-speed internally geared hub (that can be shifted at standstill), can support up to 400lbs max weight (200lbs in the cargo bin), and operates with pedal assist or trigger throttle on demand. It comes with everything you need to stay dry, clean, and safe. Even though the frame is only offered in one size, the large swept-back handlebar is highly adjustable and the saddle can be raised or lowered to fit most riders comfortably. EVELO sells a few interesting upgrades for the trike including a saddle with a back rest, a suspension seat post, and a secondary battery pack (the trike can use two at once to extend range). Weighing in at roughly 85lbs with the stock single battery installed, this trike handles well because the motor and battery are positioned low and center on the frame. Smaller 24-inch wheels lower the frame height and provide more strength than larger 26″ but more comfort than 20″ options. EVELO spoked the wheels with thick 13 gauge wire and chose extra wide 2.4″ tires for comfort, traction, and stability. The tires are great, all three have reflective sidewalls to increase the visual footprint of the bike, which is important given that it sits lower to the ground. Integrated LED lights run off of the main battery pack and a basic flick bell is included for friendly signaling. This company has been producing and selling electric bicycles in North America since 2012 and while most sales are done online, they do have a flagship store in Seattle that you can visit for test rides and pre-assembled purchases. For those who order online, shipping is free in the contiguous USA and the two-year comprehensive warranty and support are handled seven days a week by shop techs who speak great english. Yes, there’s definitely some heavy lifting to receive, unbox, and put this trike together… but mobile bike repair services are reducing that hassle if you live near a major city. I personally found this trike to be very capable, high quality, and fun to ride. It did produce some rattling, which was elevated by the gear we carried along during the ride test, but I didn’t come away with any big concerns… and that’s probably why they were sold out on units at the time of filming ;)
Driving the bike is a Bafang BBS02 mid-motor that I have reviewed independently in past years, as an add-on kit for non electric bicycles. It has become one of the most popular kits on the market based on power, price point, and reliability, but it can be tricky to install. In kit form, this motor bolts on to the bottom bracket and protrudes down and forward, which looks a bit ugly and lowers ground clearance. I’ve included some photos of just the motor in the carousel at the top of this review. As an aftermarket part, you also have to deal with a mess of wires and introduce high torque forces to a frame and drivetrain that probably weren’t meant for it. All of this is addressed by EVELO with their purpose-built frame and drivetrain here. The BBS02 motor controller isn’t as fancy as the Bafang Max Drive (used on other EVELO models), because it relies solely on a pedal cadence sensor vs. a combination of pedal cadence and torque. The downsides are that you can mash gears more easily and the starts and stops aren’t as smooth and fluid. By using the Sturmey Archer internally geared hub, EVELO eliminates gear-grinding potential and allows you to shift at standstill. This is great for riders who might not be as coordinated or familiar with traditional derailleurs and trigger shifters. With just three gears to choose from, it’s not as distracting and there’s just less that can go wrong… but it’s still nice to have three vs. one gear because it makes climbing and unpowered pedaling much easier. EVELO has custom designed their frame to surround the motor unit, which looks beautiful and adds some protection and noise reduction. This motor is a great fit in both form and function for the Compass, in my opinion, and delivers 500 watts to 700 watts stock with 90 newton meters of peak torque. To put that into perspective, a competitive cycling athlete will generally put out 250 watts continuously. So, you’re getting double that! The frame is available in two color schemes, gloss white or gloss green, and the motor casing and fork are color matched to look cohesive. Motor and battery weight are positioned low and center on this frame, I didn’t experience much frame flex, and the EVELO team told me that the maximum weight rating is 350lbs vs. just 250lbs on most competing products. I realize that this is confusing given that I also mentioned 400lb max weight earlier and in the specs. I was told two different things and deduced that 400lbs is closer to the actual limit based on tests that the staff told me about where one adult male was sitting in the basket and another adult male was pedaling the trike.
You can opt for one or two battery packs that slide-mount into racks just below the basket at the rear of this trike. It’s a fancier setup than most of the other trikes I’ve tested, which only offer one battery, and it probably contributes to the higher price point here. A single battery is rated at 48 volts 11.6 amp hours for a total of 556.8 watt hours. The average size of an ebike battery for the time period of this review was around 500 watt hours… so you’re already above average with just one pack! By opting for a second pack, which costs $750, you get over one kilowatt hour of capacity that will enable longer faster rides and more time relying solely on the throttle vs. pedal assist. Honestly, trikes aren’t that fun to pedal for me because the larger saddles can chaff my inner legs and the seat is often positioned low, so leg extension can be limited. For this reason, I think a lot of people who get electric trikes do choose to rely on the throttle frequently. It’s comfortable to rest your legs at times, even if you do enjoy pedaling gently to get the blood flowing, and the pedals on this trike can turn backwards. That’s a nice feature because some competing products have a backwards braking setup (where you pedal one quarter turn backwards to activate brakes). By contrast, the EVELO Compass has two large 180mm mechanical disc brakes that performed very well during my ride tests. Both brake levers have motor inhibitors built in, so they send a signal to stop the motor power whenever they are pulled! Anyway, back to the battery. Once the battery or batteries are charged and mounted, everything works great… but I do have some complaints about prep and access. Firstly, the batteries are difficult and uncomfortable to reach because they are positioned so low, almost hidden below the basket teck. I had to bend down onto my knees to see them, and the locking cores that keep the batteries secure are positioned at the front of the packs. To unlock and remove them for charging or reduced weight during transport, you have to use two separate keys (one for each battery mount) and get up and down a few times. In order to activate the batteries, there are toggle switches that must be clicked before moving to the front and activating the display. there are just more steps here and a bit more physical movement than I’d like… but this is how most e-trikes are setup, so I don’t want to be too hard on EVELO. Many of their two-wheeled electric bicycles use different battery designs that don’t have on/off switches and are much easier to reach, being mounted to the downtube, but those cannot be doubled and the tend to cost more.
Operating the bike is a cinch once it’s turned on, because all of the control buttons are positioned within reach of the left grip and the display is large, in color, and bright, making it easy to read. Once the battery pack or packs have been charged and mounted to the frame, you can press the power button to get the display started. The panel is branded as EVELO but comes from Bafang (just like the motor) and is called the DPC-18. It shows all of the standard readouts like battery capacity and speed, but does so in a more precise and fun way than a lot of competing displays. I like that the battery infographic shows an actual percentage vs. just five or ten bars, which aren’t as precise. Taking up the center area is a circle gauge that shows current speed and watt output (denoting motor power). Towards the bottom are trip stats including trip meter, odometer, max speed, and average speed. I was a bit confused for a moment when conducting this review, because I noticed that when cycling through the trip stats, by pressing i on the button pad, there were a few readouts that didn’t always show up. Those include range estimate, calories, and ride time. What I discovered, after some experimentation, was that these readouts become inaccessible once you’ve used the up and down buttons to change assist level. They are only available initially, and I suspect that this is a software bug from Bafang. You basically have to turn the bike off, by holding the power button for a few seconds, and then turn it back on gain to gain access to these readouts… and this resets both calories and ride time. So, you basically have to stay in the default assist level 1 to be able to reach these menus, or navigate to them before changing assist (which ranges from 0-5). Considering that most ebikes don’t even offer these three readouts, I don’t want to complain too much… but I am disappointed that Bafang didn’t catch this at the factory (because it probably affects hundreds of other ebike models and kits that rely on the same display). Bafang is a leading electric bike motor manufacturer but they can be rigid to work with from what I’ve observed. I appreciate that this trike offers instant throttle power in 1-5 assist, but caution that the bike boots up in level 1… so the throttle is hot. It’s always a good idea to mount an electric bike completely before turning it on, so you don’t bump the throttle as you use the handlebars for support. Same thing goes for dismounting… and with a trike, you want to keep both of your feet on the pedals whenever the bike is in motion, so you don’t run over your feet. Anyway, I like that the display can be swiveled to reduce glare and that control pad has a dedicated light button so it’s simpler to understand and use than some other products out there. It would be nice if the display was fully removable, so it could be kept out of the weather and away from scratches and bumps at bike racks. Trikes are big, so you might not always be able to park it inside… though they did specifically engineer it to fit through most standard doors (it’s 29.5″ wide and has smooth axle caps to reduce scratching). Ebikes like this are designed with water resistant parts, but the sun and dust will take a toll over time. For such an expensive investment, you might want to get a bike cover like this to keep it in good shape. Another good tip is to store the batteries in a cool, dry location. Extreme heat and cold can degrade the cells… and they are most stable at half charged, so try to keep them at that level when you know you won’t be riding for an extended period. I appreciate how customizable the systems are on this electric bike. You can double tap the i button to adjust things like units units (mph or km/h), display brightness, automatic power off time setting, levels of pedal assist (3, 5, or 9), different readout styles or views, trip reset, wheel size, speed limit, ambient light sensitivity (for automatic lights turning on), password, and clock. You can also check on the battery status (number of cycles and health) as well as any error codes and self diagnostics. The bike ships with a 16 mph cutoff to comply with Class 2 laws in the US and feel stable and safe, but that can be lowered further for people who might not be comfortable going so fast. On the flip side, the top speed can actually be raised to ~25mph for near Class 3 performance, to reduce commute times. Honestly, I’d probably stick with 16 mph or lower because rigid trikes like this can tip over more easily than two-wheeled bicycles, because you cannot lean into turns.
I had a great time test riding this trike with John, one of the EVELO staff members who contributed to the design. There are definitely some trade-offs to consider, but it’s one of the best electric adult tricycles I have tested to date. There’s a level of quality here that is apparent in the frame design, choice of drive systems, and accessories that set it apart. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but that can be worth it if you’re already limited physically. During the visit to their Seattle shop, I got to see three of the Compass trikes assembled and configured for different customers. I was amazed to see one that had all of the controller inputs mounted to the left portion of the handlebar (instead of spread between the two) because the owner only had one hand! I even met a woman who was toting an oxygen tank on the rear rack of another bike. For someone who cannot afford to drive, or doesn’t feel safe behind the wheel, this product really opens up the possibilities of life and community. It was amazing to see how far the staff was willing to go to help these customers. For a mostly online company, EVELO really stands out for their customer service. Some final thoughts: I like how the headlight points where you steer, I like that shipping is free in the USA and that the warranty is two year comprehensive with two additional years pro-rated pricing on the battery. If I were to buy the Compass trike and set it up for myself, I’d probably only get one battery pack (because I don’t weigh a lot and I enjoy pedaling) and I’d put it into the left battery bay vs. the right, because that one seems easier to reach for the on/off switch and charging port. It’s neat that the controller is setup with walk mode, because that could be handy for navigating up ramps, across grass in parks, or if you get a flat tire. Just hold the down arrow to get walk mode going… or you could gently press the trigger throttle. For those who might be curious, we rode through the Madrona neighborhood in Seattle, which is known for its red trees (some of which were felled to build many of the houses). There are lots of steep hills in this area, so the trike got a thorough testing. For people who might be interested in a car rack to haul the Compass trike, EVELO recommends the Hollywood rack with sliding brackets. It can hold up to 90lbs and is designed to work with trikes, but you’ll still have to lift the trike to get it onto the rack which seems like a two person job. Other options include utility trailers (like you’d use for a riding lawn mower or quad). Big thanks to EVELO for partnering with me on this post, inviting me out to Seattle, and showing off their prototype gravel grinder electric bike. I welcome any questions and feedback in the comments below, as always, and invite you into the EVELO Ebike Forums to make friends and share pictures etc.
- Evelo has been in business selling electric bikes in the United States longer than most of the other brands I have reviewed for, since 2012, they offer one of the best warranties for a direct-order company and have proactive customer service seven days a week with English speaking service tech that I would rank close to the top
- The frame and wheelset on this electric trike felt very solid, especially considering it is built around a deep wave “step-thru” design that’s approachable, there’s extra metal plates and a gussett at the bottom of the downtube, where it connects to the motor casing
- The faux leather saddle and ergonomic grips look nice but are also soft and comfortable, the high-rise swept-back handlebar offers an upright seating position so you won’t get back and neck aches as easily and it’s easier to look around in this position as well, EVELO sells an optional comfort seat with back rest for $69 if you need the support
- Even though this electric tricycle only comes in one frame size, the adjustable handlebar and seat allow it to fit a wide range of people… most e-trikes only come in one size like this
- The slightly smaller 24″ wheels keep the center of gravity lower for stability, make the bike easier to mount, and provide more strength for hauling heavy loads because the spokes are shorter
- EVELO chose extra wide tires for this trike, the 2.2″ width increases air volume for vibration and bump dampening and the wider contact patch provides stability and enables riding across dirt and grass easier because the bike floats vs. sinking in
- It’s really expensive to develop a custom frame with mid-drive motor integrated the way that this one is, it looks beautiful and is well protected with the paint-matched casing… I also like how the batteries are kept safe under the cargo bin at the rear
- The motor is very capable, offering up to 90 newton meters of peak torque, it should be able to climb most hills if you shift to the lower gears, I love how the throttle is active even from standstill to help you get going and that both brake levers have motor inhibitors to cut power instantly when pulled so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the power of the bike
- There’s no kickstand here, and that’s the case for most trikes, but both brake levers have parking brakes built in, so you can stabilize the bike for loading and mounting… when the parking brakes are engaged, the motor inhibitors are also engaged so the trigger throttle will not be active (this is important in case it gets bumped accidentally)
- It’s cool that EVELO sells accessory packages to help people get going with safety, comfort, or security because the parts are guaranteed to fit and you get a discount going through them
- I was told that Evelo uses A and B rated high-quality cells and I like that their battery packs can be charged on or off the bike because that means you can store it inside away from the cold or heat to help protect it and last longer, it’s neat that the Compass Trike has two battery bays, so you can get a second pack to extend range!
- I’ve seen a few electric trikes that only have one pedal gear, so it’s neat that this one has three because that makes climbing a lot easier and also pedaling at higher speeds more comfortable because your legs don’t have to turn as fast
- Safety is a big deal to me, so it’s cool that all three tires have reflective sidewall stripes to keep you visible from the side (even though the stock photo doesn’t show that), and there are three LED Lights wired-in to run off of the main battery!
- I like how large and bright the display panel is, the positioning is a bit low, but this keeps it protected from bumps and scratches… you can adjust the angle and there’s a USB charging port built into the bottom for your phone or other portable electronic devices
- It’s nice to have a battery percentage readout on the display vs. a 5-bar infographic, the percentage is much more precise and that could make a big difference on long rides with heavy gear… it wouldn’t be fun to run out of juice, I’d probably bring the charger along just in case to top-off at a friend’s house or restaurant
- The display automatically dims when you activate the lights, this is nice because it reduces distraction, I appreciate that the button pad has an independent light button so you don’t forget how to turn them on and off like on some other simpler displays
- This trike comes with two large-sized mechanical disc brakes that will perform better than linear-pull brakes or roller drum brakes, that’s a big deal considering the weight and extra power
- For people who aren’t comfortable with the default 16 mph top speed, you can actually go into the display settings and lower it a bit… you can also raise it to above 20 mph but they don’t recommend it for stability reasons
- Long plastic fenders and a full plastic chain cover will keep you dry and clean, so the bike could be used to get to work or school without the need for a change of clothes
- The basket is large and sturdy, it didn’t rattle during our rides, and I was told that it is capable of holding up to 200lbs of cargo weight all on its own! The maximum rating for the bike with the cargo is somewhere between 350lbs and 40lbs
- The rear disc brake and internally geared hub are protected by a section of tubing that comes down from the rear axle, this should keep the sensitive components safe if you ride over a tall obstacle (but it’s still a good idea to avoid obstacles and just be careful so you don’t tip)
- The Sturmey Archer internally geared hub allows for shifting at standstill, should be cleaner and more reliable than a cassette and derailleur, and allows for a single tight length of chain vs. a longer one that could fall off on bumpy terrain
- It’s cool that the batteries are hidden and protected below the basket, but they are kind of difficult to reach down there (for charging, turning the batteries on/off, and locking/unlocking for removal), I had to bend down and reach my hand between the side of the battery and the inside of the wheel to power it on and then get up and bend down on the other end of the pack to unlock/lock it
- Most customers will probably buy this trike online and it ships in two different boxes and requires some assembly, it’s not as easy as going to a shop… but at least you won’t have to figure out how to get it back home (as is the case with shops), consider Velofix or Beeline for assembly at your house for ~$100
- The frame only comes in one size, but it’s fairly adjustable, and at least you get two color options! The white is nice because it’s more visible at night for safety
- Priced at $3,299, this is definitely one of the more expensive electric trikes on the market and I hear that they have been sold out for a while, so it could be difficult to get quickly and that could mean missing part of the bike season
- Most electric trikes weigh a lot, this one is roughly 85lbs with one battery installed, the weight could make it difficult to maneuver and transport… but they designed it to be just under 30″ wide to fit through most standard sized doors which is nice, and you can remove the 5.7lb battery pack to reduce weight a little
- As with most electric trikes I have reviewed, only the left rear wheel receives pedal power and motor power vs. both rear wheels, this can increase the wear on that one tire and doesn’t offer as much traction as if both wheels were connected to the drivetrain
- I was surprised to discover that the locking cores for each of the two battery bays are different, you need two unique keys to unlock both batteries vs. just one, and this adds hassle every time you want to remove the packs
- Minor gripe, the charger puts out a very average 2 amps vs. 3 or 4 amps to go faster and you have to charge the batteries independently (if you buy an extra) which means two two plugs vs. just one
- The controller uses a cadence sensor vs. torque sensor, so you don’t have to apply as much pressure to keep the motor active but it doesn’t start or stop as quickly, thankfully the variable speed throttle is active from start and responds more immediately as you press it
- Evelo has done the right thing by adding motor inhibitors on both brake levers, but the extra wires up front can get a bit cluttered and messy looking (even bumping the headlight), thankfully, once they curve back towards the frame they are mostly internally routed
- Minor complaint, there wasn’t room for bottle cage bosses on the seat tube because of how low it is (the seat post slides down into it and could scrape or get jammed), and I guess EVELO thought that adding bosses to the downtube would be a bad idea because it might get kicked while mounting the trike… at least there’s a large basket in the back for gear like that