E-trike selection advice needed (disability issues)

RWB

New Member
Greetings. After many many hours online and some phone calls, I think I have to have some experience-based advice, or at least suggestions about how to find it. 2 questions -- the first is the serious one, the second is one of those usually unanswerable "why-not" questions.

1. Me: Retired male 80 yrs, pretty healthy considering my age and condition(s), which include: balance problems (occasional falls, common near misses), very weak left leg (post-polio syndrome), and some pulmonary hypertension (maximum sustained exercise rate something like 3 mph walk). Can walk pretty normally, but can't run, only climb very slowly, couldn't pedal a bike uphill even if I could stay on one.
Situation: Retirement community built on/around a steep hill. I live at the bottom; all of the common facilities are at the top (half a mile and at least 500 ft elevation change). I want to get exercise w/o going to the gym, be able to go uphill w/o car, and also to have some local transport when I have to stop driving. Would be willing to spend several K$ for the ideal machine, but I hate hassling with refunds, returns, repairs etc. so I would really like to get it right the first time. Local e-bike stores don't seem to have e-trikes or expertise, and nearest e-trike dealer is several hours away.
Issues: A trike would need: (a) to be able to carry a 250 pound payload up a 50-200 yd stretch of 20-30 degree upgrade (there are three such stretches on the way up) ON ELECTRICITY ONLY; (b) to have good brakes because we would have to go down again; (c) to have at least a 5-6 mile range in addition to the hill climbs; and (d) to be reasonably comfortable and convenient to ride.
Knowledge and ignorance (please correct as needed): (e) I understand that higher volts, watts, and torque are better for what I want, but that they don't necessarily predict specific performance; (f) if I get a front-wheel drive I will need to have a fairly upright, weight-forward design to maintain traction; and (g) I know that there is more than one design for combining pedal power and electric assist, but I can't tell what might be best for a mostly one-legged pedaler (if it matters).
So,
The question: Is there a trike or trikes that will work for me?
If yes, make/model/dealer? (and how do you know?)
If maybe, suggested specifications and sources?
If no, see question 2. I realize I could probably get a custom build for >10K$, but my price resistance sets in below that.

Question 2: It seems to me that an e-bike with good adult stabilizer ("training") wheels should work, but I can't find any auxiliary wheels that aren't either kiddie things or not recommended for electric bikes. ?????

Thanks very much for any and all suggestions or useful information (negative or positive!).
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Court Rye reviewed the Liberty Trike here which has a powerful 750w gearless direct drive motor threaded into a small 16" wheel and he liked its narrow width for getting through doorways. It's a single speed with a twist throttle, a reverse button, and a parking brake, so very easy to operate, albeit heavy at 80lb (what mobility vehicle isn't). One of the commenters on Court's review wrote they were an over the knee amputee with prosthetic leg and she found it easy to get up inclines, however the manufacturer website has this to say "steep hills and inclines will require riders (especially riders over 225lbs) to assist the motor with pedal power. The Liberty Trike is not a solution for climbing steep hills without any effort by the rider." I can't help thinking you might be better off talking with other owners about their experiences on the owners forum here https://www.facebook.com/groups/libertytrike/.
https://electricbikereview.com/liberty-trike/electric-tricycle/
https://www.libertytrike.com/products/liberty-trike
 
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AlanDB

Well-Known Member
I don't have a recommendation for a specific e-trike, but thought you might enjoy reading the newspaper article linked to in this post that features an older man who rides an e-trike: https://electricbikereview.com/forum/threads/welcome-to-disability-and-ebiking.24613/#post-163857.

I think I could get the contact information for the man featured in this article if you would like to contact him (he is not a member of this forum, but I could get a phone # / mailing address). Send me a PM if you are interested.
 

ebikemom

Administrator
Staff member
Is there somewhere near you where you can go and try out an electric trike or two?
 

Esther

New Member
I have a below knee amputation on 1 leg. I don't have balance issues, but I get a lot less strength from 1 leg.

There are a few manufacturers of electric trikes, https://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/product/trike/ and Worksman.
Spinlife sells https://www.spinlife.com/EWheels-EW-29-Recreational-Scooter/spec.cfm?productID=116066 (they don't manufacture it).
I bought my wheelchair from them - they are very helpful on the phone.

It sounds like you need a throttle for getting up the steep sections - not all e-bikes have a throttle.
I think you want disc brakes for the downhill stopping power.
You are going to want the battery positioned low, and not on the top of a rear rack, to help with the front wheel staying down.
Things you need to find out are where you can store the trike when you're not using it, whether it's easy to remove the battery and bring it indoors to charge. If you park a trike outdoors, you will want a cover for it. If you want to park indoors, can you live the trike up any steps?

You might be a candidate for an ELF - there are some used ones for sale at https://anyonecanbike.com/adverts/
I actually own an ELF. It's about 49 inches wide, so it can only go thru a garage door. The ELF has a throttle. I use a mobile bike mechanic, so I don't need to find a bike store which can get this into one of their doorways.
Mine is not for sale.
You would need to find someone near you to do a test ride - the ELF is a little tricky to get into. I only get in from the side where I can have my healthy leg on the ground, and lift the prosthetic side into the trike body. I only mount my 2-wheel bikes from that side also.

There is a front wheel conversion kit which has the battery mounted in the wheel - name is Goplus or iMortor. Even though it seems like a 20lb front wheel with motor and battery might be a great way to convert a tricycle, I recommend AGAINST it. I bought one when it was a kickstarter. It's not water sealed and it doesn't have enough torque for your hills.
 

RWB

New Member
Thanks very much for all the advice. I'm hoping to get a chance to try out an e-trike in the next week or two, and should be able to aswk better-informed questions then.
 

JohnT

Active Member
Seems like you have most of your info right. Front wheel drive up a 30 degree incline with no pedaling will be very tough for a 250 lb payload. Power and traction are both issues.

The obvious answer for traction is a reverse trike (AKA tadpole trike) which means two wheels in front and one in the rear. I’m almost done building one for a customer and they’re great! They tend to be lower than standard trikes, so they’re harder to mount, but some are higher than others. I don’t know whether your specific leg issues will work with these or not.

Regarding power, let me first talk about motor options. I wouldn’t recommend a direct drive hub motor. You will likely need to run a crazy amount of power to make your hills. A geared hub motor might do the job. A powerful mid-drive would do it for sure, but most mid-drives are low power and won’t do e-power alone, only pedal-assist.

There are a number of custom installation options that will do the job, and there are some professionals who will do the work for you. I don’t know if there are any in your area. Finding them is difficult.

If you want an online e-trike vendor, check out electrictrike.com. They have a wide variety of options. Most of their trikes are professionally converted, so they’re kind of in between custom and production trikes. You might want to contact them to see whether any will meet your needs. I’ve done business with them, and they’re great. They’re a great value. They make the Liberty Trike that @Dewey mentioned.

Oh, and a full custom installation of an electric system would likely be well under the $10k you mentioned. A decent reverse trike might cost $2k to $4k, a conversion kit might cost under $1k to $1500. Installation should be a few hundred or so. Of course, depending on your needs and wants, you could spend a lot more, but it doesn’t sound like you’re looking for high-end stuff.

Regarding putting “training wheels” on an ebike, some people like them, but they’re not that stable. You sit high on an ebike and the wheels tend to not be far enough to the side. I wouldn’t recommend it for most. I wouldn’t want my 80ish-year-old parents on them. My mom has a Pedego Trike, but she doesn’t climb steep hills and she’s only 100 lbs.