- Extremely powerful and fast electric recumbent bicycle built on the KMX Venom frame
- Custom fabricated battery case, durable LiFePo cells, powerful mid-drive Astro 3220 motor
- Excellent two year warranty, upgraded rear rack, fender, lights, LED flag and water proof panniers
Warning, in some configurations this electric bike is classified as a moped or motorcycle and may not be ridden on cycling trails or paths. It may require licensing, insurance and lights when used on public roads.
Outrider recumbent electric trikes are known for being fast, high quality, powerful and expensive. This is not an entry level product at all, it’s trickier to transport due to its size and weight (over 100 pounds) and uses an advanced battery pack that requires a load balancer to maintain. The 422 Alpha is Outrider’s top of the line offering and the name denotes its 4,000 watt motor and 2,200 watt-hour battery. This translates to “power and range” because most ebikes come with a 350 watt motor and a 400 watt-hour battery, you’re getting 11X the power and 5.5X the range. In addition, you’re also benefitting from the aerodynamic efficiencies of a recumbent and tossing in high quality extras such as Industry 9 custom wheels, Castle HV-160 controller, 700 watt quick-charger, CycleAnalyst software, rear rack with panniers and fender and an LED flagpole light. With its ~100 mile range and 45mph top speed, this thing can easily handle most commutes and has replaced cars on more than one occasion.
The Outrider 422 is built on a tadpole style recumbent electric trike (it’s called a tadpole because of the two wheels in the front and one in the rear which resembles the tail of a tadpole). The frame is actually made by KMX and called the Venom, it weighs ~50lbs on its own and retails for $1,999 so the other 50lbs and $10K cost of this bike is based on the motor, battery, computer system, frame customization, feature upgrades and warranty. That may sound like a lot but it’s actually pretty impressive given this thing is hand built in the USA! A lot of thought has been put into the custom fabricated battery holder, controller system and mid-mounted motor design. The bike has been refined over several years and Outrider provides excellent customer support, though they are based in Fletcher North Carolina which can make service a bit tricky. All of the owners I have met are very happy with the support they receive and I’ve spoken with Outrider reps and founders on numerous occasions, they’re good guys.
The motor driving this ebike is an Astro 3220 mid drive offering 4,000 watts of power. It’s mounted just under the seat and turns a system of belts that connect to gears and ultimately the rear wheel. This is a fast, powerful and light weight motor that is also quiet and the gearing system itself is one of the real highlights of the bike. I like that the motor is located centrally on the frame because that keeps the weight balanced and protects it from the elements a bit more. The belts are smooth, quiet and durable like those used on car engines. Wile the 422 Alpha does not offer pedal assist mode, the twist throttle on the left handlebar works perfectly and nearly takes your breath away when twisted because there is just so much power in the system! One note here is that in order to activate the motor the bicycle needs to be rolling at about five miles per hour.
Powering the motor on this bike is a 44.4 volt 50 amp hour (2,200 watt-hour) Lithium Iron Phosphate battery pack. Its cells are contained in the rectangular metal box that has been added along the base of the bike in line with the frame. This design is rugged, water resistant and keeps the center of gravity very low on the bike making it very stable (perhaps more stable than a standard KMX Venom non-electric recumbent). On the sides of the pack are ports for charging and load balancing and a keyed switch that activates the system. It’s an impressive setup and the reason one might consider buying vs. building one of their own. The pack is durable, well thought out and great looking but demands respect given the quick charger, size of the battery and required load balancer.
On to the creature comforts! If you’re a geek, the CycleAnalyst software on the 422 Alpha will be a lot of fun. It shows a bunch of stats about battery performance and allows you to choose from one of three power settings that either keep the bike within the legal limits of US electric bike riding (750 watts and 20mph top speed) or far exceed them (2,200 watts and 45mph top speed). The LCD display is front and center making it easy to read and control when riding. The seat itself is quite comfortable and you can even get a head rest (as seen in the video) to reduce neck fatigue over long rides. The handle grips are easy to reach, the rear rack is pretty standard meaning you can add other bags if you’d like but the included waterproof panniers work great. The front light and rear LED flagpole are wonderful and really important on a recumbent like this for safety reasons. In a way the bike feels vulnerable given its lower position but the power, agility and balance it offers do a lot to make it feel safe and capable.
What really makes this bike work for people is its speed and stability, it enables you to work with traffic vs. being passed up all the time. It’s an electric bike that’s most comfortable on roads and since it can go faster, its easier to claim the lane without upsetting drivers. Few other electric bikes offer the same level of performance. You still want to avoid potholes because there aren’t any shocks and the seat padding only goes so far. The bike doesn’t really work off road or going up and down curbs and sidewalks. It’s at its best when riding on smooth, quiet backroads on adventure travel rides and that’s kind of what inspired the “Outrider” name. In general, these bikes are very responsive and works well in most conditions (snow is probably the exception) but I would suggest adding front fenders if it rains a lot where you plan to ride.
With 18 speeds to choose from when pedaling (9 on the rear cassette and two on the front planetary gear) the Alpha 422 works pretty well even when the battery is off but with such a large capacity and fast recharge rate you should always have electric drive support. It’s a challenge to communicate the the full potential and feature set of this ebike because it is so unique and custom. I want to close by describing the experience in my own terms. The bike is stable, very fast and responsive (almost frightening at high speeds), it has some great safety features including the large LED flag but should be handled with respect and care, the company is friendly and supportive and offers a solid warranty that garners a lot of trust. While it’s harder to transport and park this ebike, it functions more like a car and is built to last.
- Durable, high quality frame with mirrors, rack and rear fender by KMX; optional head rest and front fenders
- Enormous 2,200 watt-hour battery pack is capable of powering the bike over 100 miles
- Lithium Iron Phosphate battery cells are known for being durable, heat resistant and long lasting; the larger size also extends life since it is less likely to be fully discharged as often
- Powerful 4,000 watt Astro 3220 motor offers plenty torque and speed for climbing hills or keeping up with traffic
- Three riding modes (Assist, Economy and Power) help the bike comply with US laws, conserve battery but go a bit faster or zip quicky and powerfully out of harms way
- Grip shifter and twist throttles work well and balance out the two handle bars, the heel-activated front gear works well and is convenient
- Plastic chain covers keep your pants clean and out of harms way, also protect the chain
- Super fast 700 watt charger only takes two hours to recharge the bike from empty and the included load balancer protects the battery for extended life
- Included front light and LED flagpole are critical for safety since the trike is so low to the ground
- Hand built in the USA with continuous refinements and improvements ongoing
- Custom made wheels by Industry 9 designed to be more rugged at high speeds and avoid loose spokes
- Very stable with low center of gravity, battery pack acts as a ballast and enables hard turning at higher speeds
- Mechanical disc brakes vs. hydraulic require a bit more effort to use, may create more hand fatigue over long distances
- Nowhere to mount a water bottle, consider using a CamelBak but putting it on the front of your body vs. back
- No shock absorbers and smaller wheels make potholes and large bumps feel uncomfortable at any speed (though the seat is quite forgiving)
- More complex computer system and charging routine, more advanced ebike all-around that should be taken seriously to avoid wrecking the battery (balancer is not built in as with other bikes, require correct connection and settings when charging)
- Harder to transport than traditional ebikes, battery is not removable, frame is long
- In the event of a fix or maintenance requiring help from Outrider you’ll have to ship it to North Carolina
- Have to pedal up to five miles per hour before motor can be activated, can be a challenge if on a hill