- Electric powered bike trailer that connects to rear axle and pushes rider with a trigger throttle
- Less expensive and more portable than buying a complete electric bike
- Connects and disconnects in minutes, easy to swap between bikes
- Louder and bouncier than an electric bike, wires a bit tacky, provides lockable storage, takes more space at the bike rack
[Update] This review is for the 2012/2013 model year Ridekick. The product was paused for 2014 and has since been updated and improved starting in 2015. To read about the latest version of the Ridekick Power Trailer click here.
The Ridekick PT (Power Trailer) will turn almost any regular bike into an electric bike by connecting to the rear axle and pushing the rider forward. It’s cheaper than most fully-built electric bikes and is much easier to transport because it can be completely disconnected. The battery inside is also removable which makes lifting the unit easier. With this trailer you can store your books, work stuff, groceries and and many other items while keeping them protected from the elements and prying eyes. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of the Ridekick and indeed, it performs very well with its powerful 500 Watt motor and axle push system, but it’s got several drawbacks worth considering before jumping onboard.
The first thing most people wonder when they see a Ridekick for the first time is “does it actually work?”. It seems counter intuitive to be pushed by an electric motor, especially by a smallish looking trailer connected with a spring bound hitch. I wondered this same thing the first time I saw one and was concerned about the possibility of jack-knifing, having the trailer slide sideways and push me over, when going up hills or taking sharp turns. In reality, the Ridekick works very well and even pushed me up medium sized hills without issue.
One drawback of the propulsion design on the RideKick is that it only powers the left wheel which is mounted directly, via chain, to the 500 Watt motor in the undercarriage of the trailer. This means that over time the left tire will wear faster than the right one and it also creates an awkward storage compartment floor area inside. This is necessary in order to achieve the small form factor and aerodynamic qualities of the Ridekick but it means you might have to replace a tire down the line, store your stuff at an angle and eventually rotate the tires. That brings us to another hurdle, it’s very hard to remove the wheels on the Ridekick. Instead of one long axle, this unit has two separate ones and if it gets bent you will simply have to deal with a wobbly wheel on one side… which isn’t terrible but can be annoying if you just spent $700. None of these drawbacks are deal killers but they should help to paint a picture of how the Ridekick actually works and some of its vulnerabilities.
The versatility of the Ridekick is awesome in the sense that you can fully disconnect it and be back to your regular old bike in minutes. Even with it connected, bike riding feels more nimble and banking turns is less scary than on full sized ebikes with batteries mounted up high. The RideKick takes advantage of all the money you poured into a fancy touring bike, full suspension mountain bike, recumbent bike or carbon fiber road bike and works with nearly everything except for super high-end bikes with through axles that are too wide to accommodate the hitch mount.
When hooking up the RideKick for the first time you have to run a wire along the length of the bike frame and up to the handle bars where the throttle will strap on. There are little velcro strips that hold the wire and mount the trigger throttle in place and while they work well enough, they do look tackier than a fully integrated wired or wireless solution. The trigger throttle itself works well and offers precise variable speed control. I like the fact that it mounts using simple velcro straps because that makes it much easier to setup with drop handle bars.
One of the most annoying parts of the Ridekick is also its biggest strength, it can carry stuff! On the one hand it’s utilitarian, waterproof, aerodynamic, secure and spacious. On the other it’s noisy, bouncy, prone to cracking (if you over extend the lid when opening), easy to trip over and get in the way at bike racks. Because it is light weight and made in part of plastic, the Ridekick just rattles a lot and that makes it louder than most electric bikes I’ve used. The motor is also not the quietest. If you’ve ever heard a skateboarder cruising down the sidewalk making those clack-clack, clack-clack noises, you’ll have some idea for what the Ridekick is like when going over larger cracks and bumps in the road. It’s not nearly as frequent as a skateboard but it’s the same concept and it feels tackier and cheaper than many full electric bikes with shocks and large soft tires.
The tires on the Ridekick are pretty solid and less prone to flats than most other electric bikes because they are so thick. The unit itself only weighs ~45 pounds so that’s less weight bearing down on the tires when going over hazardous objects. I’ve heard horror stories about normal electric bikes getting flats and having to be walked or carried home. The Ridekick by comparison would run pretty well even if the tire did get a flat and the wheel frame wouldn’t get damaged as easily. It’s also so easy to disconnect and transport in a car that you could easily get a friend to just pick it up or lock it to a pole and come back later. The metal tubing that makes up the hitch for the Ridekick has a built in welded loop that makes locking easy.
The low price point and versatility of the Ridekick makes it an enticing product. In my opinion it’s more of a tool than a mode of transportation like higher end fully integrated electric bikes but that’s okay. I vary between riding an electric and regular bike to work each day and given the awkwardness and noise of the Ridekick I’ve considered owning one as a separate option for grocery stopping but couldn’t justify the price when I could simply put panniers or a Burley trailer on my electric bike. Note that RideKick is working on a full sized kids trailer with motor integration!
If you’re into recumbent bikes the Ridekick may be one of your only options to go electric and in that case it’s a great option for everyday use! This trailer is built tough, does well in wet environments and offers something fun and unique. The company that makes these is also very fun and authentic. They assemble the units at a factory in Colorado and field any support requests very quickly and with a lot of positivity.
- cheaper than most full electric bikes, inexpensive battery replacements
- very easy to transport and store, can be tipped onto its back for vertical storage
- built tough, holds up well in wet environments
- great storage potential, adjustable combination lock
- upgradable firmware, great charge/discharge control to support battery life and performance
- built in USB port for charging a phone or other device
- does not get flat tires as often as full ebikes, tough tires, less weight bearing down
- quick connect/disconnect hitch is efficient, strong and has built in locking loop
- wonderful company with great support and commitment to product
- trigger throttle works well and can mount on any bike
- low weight distribution creates a nimble riding experience that’s more stable than a heavy full electric bike
- can mount to any bike including recumbent, trikes or scooters
- limited color selection, wish it came in simpler better-matching colors
- somewhat tacky looking wires and throttle solution
- very noisy and bouncy on bumps, rattling plastic sound
- relatively loud brushed motor with chain connection
- gets in the way at bike racks
- hard to remove wheels, left wheel drives trailer and wears faster, hard to change tires
- harder to go up curbs and fit through narrow gates, obstacles and corners