Advice for electric recumbent trike riders.

rawB

New Member
My name is Robb from Portland, Oregon. Where are you located..?
My friend Court ask me to look at your question and reach out to you.
I had some knee pain also, On a recumbent trike, crank arm length is very important to figure in.
I’m just 5’7” tall, (short) and my knee pain was from riding with too long (170mm crank arms). It took some searching to find crank arms that would work with my Bafang mid-drive e-assist. I finally found some 152mm cranks on AliExpress. This solved the problem.
When the arms are too long in the recumbent position, to return stroke brings your knees up too sharply and causes pain. Shorter arms will make the rotation more comfortable. Seat position is very important also. The ICE, AZUB and some of the Catrikes have adjustable seats.

You may want to order a complete trike and try it without electric assist. Some of the lighter trikes like the Catrike 700 and the ICE VTX are extremely light and are designed for speed (it is also narrow to get thru doors) measure the opening in your doors and look at the width of the trikes you are considering. I wouldn’t put electric assist on those because they don’t need it.

MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF GEAR IS A GOOD HELMET. GOOD LIGHTING AND A GOOD FLAG FOR VISIBILITY. I can send recommendations on lighting, just ask. :)
I also prefer SPD cleats to keep my feet on the pedals. A pot hole can bounce them off and you don’t want them being drug under the seat at a high speed. :)

To save some money, I ordered my AZUB without the BB bottom bracket, front derailleur, or front sprockets. I order my BBS02 Bafang 48v 750w mid-drive and lithium ion battery. And installed them once the trike arrived from the dealer.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=akA1vg5fcwY&t=5s

I prefer the mid-drives over the hub motors. I get more torque to climb the steep Portland hills and can utilize my cassette (gears) with the mid-drive. Later, I swapped out the cassette for a Rohloff hub. (it is amazing with a mid-drive system) I think it is really personal preference. :)

Many places to find Bafang mid-drive kit: Ebay, AliExpress, California-ebike.com or local dealers.

TerraCycle. Pat Franz has many extra parts. T-Cycle.com. has the trike battery mounts that put the heavy lithium batteries under your seat, mounted to the frame. If you get a folding trike, take that into consideration. Some mounting brackets don’t work with folding. TerraCycle has the best Ceramic Idlers and return Idlers on the market today.

For Accessibility. The the assist bars to help with standing up. First lock your brakes and (It is important to place your feet back to the seat, squat down and then scoot back into the seat. To stand up. Lock the brakes again, Place your feed back, scoot to the front edge of the seat, while brakes are locked, hang onto the assist handles and stand up.

http://www.utahtrikes.com/UTCAT-820.html

There are many E-Trikes on the market today.

https://azub.eu/recumbent-bikes-and-trikes/

I own an AZUB Ti-Tris "tadpole" - (2 front one rear wheel) I prefer the tadpoles because they a more stable on corners (but any trike (delta or tadpole) will tip and roll going too fast on turns)
I purchased from Mark Waters from BackCountryRecumbentCycles.com I save a lot of money going thru Mark at BCRC. Then had it shipped to RoseCityRecumbentCycles in Portland where Robert and Jonathan set it up for me.

My trike does not have suspension. And it isn’t good on gravel roads for that reason. If you are going to be on paved road only, you can decide if suspension is right for you. For unpaved roads, I recommend a full suspension FS trike. Azub offers the Ti-FLY FS with wishbone titanium suspension (beautiful and a little pricey.
Azub also offers the TRIcon with rear suspension. This helps even out the road.

Catrike.com. offers several tadpoles.
The Dumont is full suspension. About $4200 . But the front Suspension only has 1/2" of travel. You will bottom out on bumps.
You can get better results with a good set of ballon tires like the Schwalbe Big Apple PLUS E-50 rated or the Schwalbe Big Ben PLUS E-50 rated.
Properly inflated, they will give you more suspension than the Dumont's 1/2" of travel.
Remember, with an etike, it is important to have ebike/etrike rated tires for safety. You will be moving much faster.
The Road is rear suspension with optional front suspension.

ICEtrikes.co offers high end trikes with FS and RS or non at all. About $

A good website to look at all the trikes and the options is UtahTrikes.com. Matt is a friend, he helped me build a Rohloff Hub Wheel for my AZUB. I started out with a SRAM DD3-27 hub. But it has a solid axle and not a QR skewer. I needed a skewer to attach my trailer. And the DD3 wouldn’t accommodate. I also prefer Disk Hydraulic brakes.

I can’t say enough good things about my friend Court. The most important thing is that I trust his advice.
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with information. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call.
Have a great day and ride safely my friend.

Robb, PDX. 503-729-1413
 
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rawB

New Member
Yes.. The AZUB Ti-Fly is an impressive machine, For me, I would choose the single lever, Dual pull T525 hydraulic brakes on my trike. That way I can put the rear brake on my left side. As a motorcycle rider, my instinct is to pull the right brake to stop. In that split second, I want my instinct to kick in and help me avoid a collision. The Shimano Steps mid-drive and the electronic shifting is really amazing. I have found that my BBS02 48v 750w has more torque than the ShimanoSteps system. My friend have the Steps and I can out run them. (especially on inclines). :) . But..the steps is a beautiful integrated system with internal tube routing of wires. If I had to decide again today, It would be a toss up between the BBS02 750w and the Steps.
And I think i would choose the AZUB Ti-Fly over the Ti-Tris. That titanium front suspension is gorgeous and when you go into a turn, that wishbone suspension shifts weight by stiffening up the outside wheel and relaxing the inside wheel suspension. It is really a work of art.
I had the opportunity to meet Honza Galla from AZUB.. They are amazing to work with.
I'm also really impressed with the ICE trikes like the Sprint and the SprintX.. I really like to lay back when I ride. So I got the headrest to support my neck in that position. The Adventure and the VTX are very impressive also. I go to RoseCityRecumbentCycles in Portland for all my maintenance. They are incredibly knowledgeable mechanics and they used to be part of the original team at Coventry Cycles in PDX. They did the setup and swapped out my rear DD3 for the Rohloff hub and set up my disc brakes. I really trust them to take care of me. As a rider that puts over 5k miles on my trike every year. I need mechanics that can keep my trikes in top shape. They also have Recumbent bikes and design them. You really have to understand bike mechanics to design them.
Hope that this thread is helpful. Ask me anything and I will try my best. Robb PDX USA
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
This conversation was sent in response to rawB via email and I'm sharing it here because it seems relevant and the user was confused about how to login to the forums. It comes from a gentleman named Mike:

And so, the old man (me) took his first ride on a trike this very afternoon. I live in East Tennessee – very beautiful! Rolling hills that run right up to the smoky mountains – views as far as the eyes can see, absolutely lovely! I’m not from here, (far from it actually) but glad to be here! As I mentioned in my previous note to you, I am a life long distance walker. I’ve been doing it with regularity since I was 18 years old. In the past year, I’ve developed arthritis and as a result, my knees hurt quite a bit when I walk long distances. I love the outdoors and I don’t want to give up walking and I thought perhaps bike riding would be less stressful on my knees and enable me to continue to get outdoors and exercise at the same time. I have an excellent upright bike that I have used for years. Because of the arthritis it hurts my wrists, my knees and my back when I ride. I thought a recombinant bike might be at effective alternative. And so, my first ride (today) was highly favorably impressive. I borrowed my friends Greenespeed GT1. it was smooth, easy to shift and just plain old fun to ride. In truth it’s a lot more fun than riding a bicycle – in my opinion :)

I found myself gazing at the sky and the scenery around me more than I normally would when riding a regular bicycle. I did discover, however, a major downside to, at least this recumbent and that is STEEP HILLS! Murder on the knees! Grueling would be the right word. The bike has 24 spades and I was on the lowest of all the speeds but carrying my weight plus the weight of the bike up those steep was really really difficult - MUCH harder than i experienced with my regular bike. It is for that reason that I have decided that though I love the recumbent bike approach to exercise, if i pursue this I am simply going to have to have a bike with a power assist. Likely I will only use it to assist on steep hills. In addition, as I weigh 215 pounds I’m 6 foot one, I think any power assist that I would have would have to be of substantial power. Yesterday I was privileged to ride a electric assist recombinant bicycle (not tricycle). it had a 500 W power assist. I was able to observe that even on relatively small hills the power that it had it was not very substantial. I doubt very much that a 500 W power assist would be of much value on those very steep hills. And so, I look to you who have considerable experience for advice. I have no interest in purchasing a bike and adding power to it. That just seems too involved and not something I want to do. I would rather buy a bike that is complete right off the bat. On the other hand, I really don’t want to spend the huge sums that seem to be associated with recumbent powered bikes. So I’m in a bit of a quandary and not exactly sure how I’m going to approach this. I would like to buy a used powered bike but I’ve searched and there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for those. So any advice you might have would be much appreciated !

I have some other opinions on this matter but I’ll save them for another time with one exception. The market that is out there appears to appeal to nearly opposite crowds – trikes for young guys who want to race around or ride through the woods or very elderly people who want to cruise around their RV park or retirement village and 1 mile an hour. I can say for sure there’s a market that’s being missed here – a huge market and that is the 50 to 70-year-olds who would love to ride a recumbent power assist bike that is comfortable yet sleek and powerful. The group has the money to purchase vehicles like that and would appreciate the stability and safety and comfort that are not afforded with bicycles. That market is being missed entirely, in my opinion. I think one of the reasons for that is it appears that most of the engineers and people who were involved in this industry or under 40. Someone needs to tap into the market of 50 - 70 year olds and emphasize the joy of riding and the safety of riding a recombinant power assisted trike - I am specifically not referring to what is typically offer to people of that age and the “trikes” that appeal to the 80 and up crowd / huge wheels, 3 speeds, jumbo baskets, Sunbrella - top speed of 2 mph that declares to the world “watch out ancient person coming through” - Actually i think the old timers who get out and do that should be congratulated! Appreciate your thoughts !

Mike also responded with this:

As I’m entering into retirement and with considerable expenses otherwise, I have to be careful about expenditures. with shipping and the upgraded motor, which is offered on both of those models and which would be necessary for me living here in East Tennessee where it is very hilly, The cost would be somewhere around $3200. Both of them work out to nearly the same price when all things are included. And so, I’m interested in a used trike. I have looked and looked and looked in the market for used electric trikes is zip. I skyward craigslist and eBay and as I noted none or to be found.

And so, I turn to you with a request, in the course of the business that you do, if you come across a used T3CX or ERT 36, please try to keep in mine and drop me a note. I would very much appreciate that, best to you, Mike
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
I'd mention to Mike that he will have to build a whole new group of muscles on a recumbent. After riding over 5,000 miles on traditional eBikes, I couldn't pedal for 2 continuous miles on my Sunseeker Fat-Tad when I got it. Now two continuous miles for me, might be two continuous miles on the throttle for others. I'll also add that I'm 65 and will never be in the cruise around the RV park crowd. I'm only going slow in my casket!!! My other eBikes are speed pedelec versions. If I'm not averaging more than 15mph on an urban ride, it's no fun for me. Now as far as safety on a recumbent. I've been on my side twice in the first 300 miles. Three wheels doesn't mean they are stable. It means it's only stable when sitting still, really unstable on sharp turns! Both my spills came at almost zero speed. First one was cutting donuts in a school parking lot in the snow. Did a slide and at the end of the spin, the front tire caught a ledge. Second was a 180 degree turn on a rail trail. I was in a bit of a reverse camber, turned too tight, and at 1mph I was on my arm in the gravel. As soon as you realize you are going to flip, too late, you are already over. You just can't balance a 3 wheel vehicle on 2 wheels without great skill. The last caution about advocating for recumbents for seniors is getting out of it. Unless you have great balance and core strength, you aren't getting out of something with the seat that is lower than your knees.
 

rawB

New Member
This conversation was sent in response to rawB via email and I'm sharing it here because it seems relevant and the user was confused about how to login to the forums. It comes from a gentleman named Mike:

And so, the old man (me) took his first ride on a trike this very afternoon. I live in East Tennessee – very beautiful! Rolling hills that run right up to the smoky mountains – views as far as the eyes can see, absolutely lovely! I’m not from here, (far from it actually) but glad to be here! As I mentioned in my previous note to you, I am a life long distance walker. I’ve been doing it with regularity since I was 18 years old. In the past year, I’ve developed arthritis and as a result, my knees hurt quite a bit when I walk long distances. I love the outdoors and I don’t want to give up walking and I thought perhaps bike riding would be less stressful on my knees and enable me to continue to get outdoors and exercise at the same time. I have an excellent upright bike that I have used for years. Because of the arthritis it hurts my wrists, my knees and my back when I ride. I thought a recombinant bike might be at effective alternative. And so, my first ride (today) was highly favorably impressive. I borrowed my friends Greenespeed GT1. it was smooth, easy to shift and just plain old fun to ride. In truth it’s a lot more fun than riding a bicycle – in my opinion :)

I found myself gazing at the sky and the scenery around me more than I normally would when riding a regular bicycle. I did discover, however, a major downside to, at least this recumbent and that is STEEP HILLS! Murder on the knees! Grueling would be the right word. The bike has 24 spades and I was on the lowest of all the speeds but carrying my weight plus the weight of the bike up those steep was really really difficult - MUCH harder than i experienced with my regular bike. It is for that reason that I have decided that though I love the recumbent bike approach to exercise, if i pursue this I am simply going to have to have a bike with a power assist. Likely I will only use it to assist on steep hills. In addition, as I weigh 215 pounds I’m 6 foot one, I think any power assist that I would have would have to be of substantial power. Yesterday I was privileged to ride a electric assist recombinant bicycle (not tricycle). it had a 500 W power assist. I was able to observe that even on relatively small hills the power that it had it was not very substantial. I doubt very much that a 500 W power assist would be of much value on those very steep hills. And so, I look to you who have considerable experience for advice. I have no interest in purchasing a bike and adding power to it. That just seems too involved and not something I want to do. I would rather buy a bike that is complete right off the bat. On the other hand, I really don’t want to spend the huge sums that seem to be associated with recumbent powered bikes. So I’m in a bit of a quandary and not exactly sure how I’m going to approach this. I would like to buy a used powered bike but I’ve searched and there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for those. So any advice you might have would be much appreciated !

I have some other opinions on this matter but I’ll save them for another time with one exception. The market that is out there appears to appeal to nearly opposite crowds – trikes for young guys who want to race around or ride through the woods or very elderly people who want to cruise around their RV park or retirement village and 1 mile an hour. I can say for sure there’s a market that’s being missed here – a huge market and that is the 50 to 70-year-olds who would love to ride a recumbent power assist bike that is comfortable yet sleek and powerful. The group has the money to purchase vehicles like that and would appreciate the stability and safety and comfort that are not afforded with bicycles. That market is being missed entirely, in my opinion. I think one of the reasons for that is it appears that most of the engineers and people who were involved in this industry or under 40. Someone needs to tap into the market of 50 - 70 year olds and emphasize the joy of riding and the safety of riding a recombinant power assisted trike - I am specifically not referring to what is typically offer to people of that age and the “trikes” that appeal to the 80 and up crowd / huge wheels, 3 speeds, jumbo baskets, Sunbrella - top speed of 2 mph that declares to the world “watch out ancient person coming through” - Actually i think the old timers who get out and do that should be congratulated! Appreciate your thoughts !

Mike also responded with this:

As I’m entering into retirement and with considerable expenses otherwise, I have to be careful about expenditures. with shipping and the upgraded motor, which is offered on both of those models and which would be necessary for me living here in East Tennessee where it is very hilly, The cost would be somewhere around $3200. Both of them work out to nearly the same price when all things are included. And so, I’m interested in a used trike. I have looked and looked and looked in the market for used electric trikes is zip. I skyward craigslist and eBay and as I noted none or to be found.

And so, I turn to you with a request, in the course of the business that you do, if you come across a used T3CX or ERT 36, please try to keep in mine and drop me a note. I would very much appreciate that, best to you, Mike


Hello. As a 53yo man who 6 years ago had to get a recumbent trike because of complications from Multiple Sclerosis and type 1 diabetes that caused balance issues. I understand the desire to remain as healthy and active as possible. I fully understand conserving on cost. I found that working on my own trike was a big cost savings for me. I bought my first Catrike Expedition for $2500 (it took 3 years of setting aside every penny) and one year later added a Bafang BBS02 mid-drive and lithium ion battery pack.(I found on AliExpress for $649) . It took that year to save up the money for the upgrade.
The first time I rode the recumbent trike home without e-assist, I got really exhausted. It took a couple weeks riding an hour every day to build up strength and endurance. In that year before the upgrade to assist, I built up to 30 mile rides. Recumbent trikes require different leg muscle groups than the upright bike. Even seasoned bicyclist feel exhausted after their first recumbent ride.
I am really grateful that I started out without assist (to build up endurance) and later upgraded.
Installing my own Bafang (instructions on youtube) saved me almost $600 labor cost at a bike shop. And the fact that I now understand the mechanics of how it all works helps me prevent damage and utilize the system more efficiently. I am really grateful for the learning experience and I feel more confident on the road in the event of a break down.
I just went on craigslist today and found a dozen recumbent trikes. There are two (2) recumbent e-trikes in the PDX/SEA area complete for less than $2500. If you find a recumbent trike, look at youtube reviews and do your research. Ebay always has 1 or 2 quality recumbents and a lot of recumbents that will not be enjoyable to ride.
Remember, Lithium-ion battery packs only have a certain number of charges (cycles) .They are the most expensive part that has to be occasionally replaced because they wear out. When purchasing a cycle with a battery, ask how long they have had the e-trike. If they are charging the battery everyday for a year, that is 365 cycles used up already. (most batteries have 500 -1000 cycles) research the manufacturer of the battery to find out it cycle rating. Ask if the battery has been sitting in storage (inside or outside: exposed to heat/cold) . That makes a difference. If it has been sitting in storage fully charged for more than 3-4 months, it can damage the cells.
Court has some informative videos (and others on youtube) on how to store and what to look for when purchasing a lithium battery pack.
It is possible to get an e-trike on a budget. I did it (the process took a while) . I wish you the very best. Robb PDX USA
 

rawB

New Member
I'd mention to Mike that he will have to build a whole new group of muscles on a recumbent. After riding over 5,000 miles on traditional eBikes, I couldn't pedal for 2 continuous miles on my Sunseeker Fat-Tad when I got it. Now two continuous miles for me, might be two continuous miles on the throttle for others. I'll also add that I'm 65 and will never be in the cruise around the RV park crowd. I'm only going slow in my casket!!! My other eBikes are speed pedelec versions. If I'm not averaging more than 15mph on an urban ride, it's no fun for me. Now as far as safety on a recumbent. I've been on my side twice in the first 300 miles. Three wheels doesn't mean they are stable. It means it's only stable when sitting still, really unstable on sharp turns! Both my spills came at almost zero speed. First one was cutting donuts in a school parking lot in the snow. Did a slide and at the end of the spin, the front tire caught a ledge. Second was a 180 degree turn on a rail trail. I was in a bit of a reverse camber, turned too tight, and at 1mph I was on my arm in the gravel. As soon as you realize you are going to flip, too late, you are already over. You just can't balance a 3 wheel vehicle on 2 wheels without great skill. The last caution about advocating for recumbents for seniors is getting out of it. Unless you have great balance and core strength, you aren't getting out of something with the seat that is lower than your knees.
Hello R... It is my opinion that a delta trike is far more likely to tip over on a turn while braking. I feel really stable on a tadpole. 2 wheels in front. It has to do with inertia and turning while braking that make deltas tippy. When referring to safety on "recumbents" . it is important to distinguish between delta and tadpole. It sounds like flipping cookies in the parking lot is not very safe. Safety requires respecting your limits and road conditions. Wish you the best. Ride safely my friend.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Hello R... It is my opinion that a delta trike is far more likely to tip over on a turn while braking. I feel really stable on a tadpole. 2 wheels in front. It has to do with inertia and turning while braking that make deltas tippy. When referring to safety on "recumbents" . it is important to distinguish between delta and tadpole. It sounds like flipping cookies in the parking lot is not very safe. Safety requires respecting your limits and road conditions. Wish you the best. Ride safely my friend.
My feeling is that sliding in an empty parking lot in the snow with my "tadpole trike" is much safer than riding it on the street any time of the year. I ride in fear any time I'm on a street.
 

rawB

New Member
My feeling is that sliding in an empty parking lot in the snow with my "tadpole trike" is much safer than riding it on the street any time of the year.
Just a quick response. I commend you for knowing your limits for safety. In over 6k miles on a recumbent tadpole trike, I have only had one close call when It comes to tipping over. I had to turn very abruptly to avoid a car door opening. If I had been on a bicycle, I would have ran into the door. My last ride on an upright bike, I went over and had to have 10 stitches in my chin. I guess it is just what you feel confident with, knowing the limits, and being aware and safety. I wish you many happy miles.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
@rawB & Mike; we've had the opportunity to convert a couple of tadpole Catrikes at my workshop in the last year and they were some of the most comfortable and stable trikes ever. We chose rear hub motors to do the conversions which provided a nice balance of front & rear weight with the battery mounted on the boom where the water bottle cage is located. Handled like a charm on turns. There are benefits to both styles of conversions.
 

rawB

New Member
Just a quick response. I commend you for knowing your limits for safety. In over 6k miles on a recumbent tadpole trike, I have only had one close call when It comes to tipping over. I had to turn very abruptly to avoid a car door opening. If I had been on a bicycle, I would have ran into the door. My last ride on an upright bike, I went over and had to have 10 stitches in my chin. I guess it is just what you feel confident with, knowing the limits, and being aware and safety. I wish you many happy miles.
 

rawB

New Member
@rawB & Mike; we've had the opportunity to convert a couple of tadpole Catrikes at my workshop in the last year and they were some of the most comfortable and stable trikes ever. We chose rear hub motors to do the conversions which provided a nice balance of front & rear weight with the battery mounted on the boom where the water bottle cage is located. Handled like a charm on turns. There are benefits to both styles of conversions.
Hello.. The rear hub is a great choice when mounting a battery to the boom. I'm not a skilled wheel builder to put a hub in the rear wheel (that can get expensive to have a wheel built) . My situation was just the opposite, I used a BBS02 and have (2) two TerracCycle frame mounts under the seat so I can keep center of gravity low and under me. t-cycle.com of Portland. :) . Sounds like you found a good solution to work in your situation. Sometimes it takes thinking outside the box.. :) I really enjoy my recumbent tadpole trike and ride everyday. Ride Safely my friend.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
rawB, most hub motors are already laced into the wheel and aren't very expensive; however, the Bafang mid drive motors are nice & powerful (I have one bike with that setup). Lucky you with the below the frame mount to distribute the weight. I was thinking you would have all of that weight out in front :)
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
rawB, most hub motors are already laced into the wheel and aren't very expensive; however, the Bafang mid drive motors are nice & powerful (I have one bike with that setup). Lucky you with the below the frame mount to distribute the weight. I was thinking you would have all of that weight out in front :)
Especially if the battery is on the boom!
 

BrentD

New Member
I've recently retired and got rid of the 2nd car. I decided to do more riding around town as my main form of exercise AND transportation. But what to ride?? Well, I have a road bike from the 70's in mint condition but my body can't take the punishment for more than 30 minutes. I also have a mountain bike, a little more upright in the saddle, larger tires, more gears, nice weight, decent quality, not too old, not too many miles yet. I also wanted an electric bike, so what to do. I spent a lot of time googling the options. Most bikes looked pretty expensive but only compared to a regular bike, not a club road bike that many people get sold on. I decided on an ebike kit, mid-drive motor, battery pack on the rear rack. I had it installed on my mountain bike and I've ridden it for half the summer and fall so far. It's pretty stealthy and most people don't even know it's electric assist, not that it would bother me anyways.

I discovered a few things after riding the first 500 km. A long ride used to be 18 km to the office, now that's too short. My favourite bike shop is 36 km away and offers a very interesting choice of routes. That's a good ride. The longest so far was 85 km round trip, with nice lunch break in the middle. I'm just not worried about it anymore. On the other hand, the recumbent trikes are looking pretty good. I've done some test rides on a few different makes, straight peddling and electric. I really like the Azub Ti-fly 26". I've covered a number of bike paths and routes in my city. I'll have to re-evaluate them based on a trike with some width. Why on earth do they still use those posts and offset railings at the ends of pathways? They should be illegal - a wheelchair couldn't get through!