- A fun, classic looking electrified tricycle designed for adults, it's easy to mount, stable to ride and very adjustable in terms of speed and power, (go from 3 mph to 14 mph or slow reverse)
- Includes a rubber-coated metal basket that's perfect for storing groceries, supplies or the included charger to extend rides, removable battery pack can be charged on or off the bike
- Available in five fun, bright and safe colors, highly adjustable seat with bars that are long, comfortable and easy to reach, the bike has a fender and chain guard to keep you clean
- The display panel cannot be removed, the bike is fairly heavy and a bit wide which could make it difficult to squeeze through some doors, shipping is $350 but it comes ready to ride
One of the greatest aspects of electric bicycles is that they empower people, some of whom might struggle with manual pedaling, to get back outside and ride. It helps them keep up with friends, go further and carry more gear. Adult tricycles are a natural good fit with motorized technology because in my opinion, they are already accommodating people who might struggle with biking. The Sun 24″ Traditional Electric Tricycle is a perfect example of this. It looks beautiful, keeps you clean and dry with a fender and chain ring, only has one gear by default so you don’t need to worry as much about dropping the chain and hey! It has three mid-sized wheels so mounting and stopping is stable and safe. Those 24 inch wheels contributed to the name of this thing and might be easy to overlook for someone less focused on the bicycle space. Most full sized bikes have 26″ or 28″ wheels but those raise the frame higher off the ground. You get efficiency and a smooth roll over cracks and potholes but steering gets slower as the diameter gets bigger. On the flip side, kids bikes and many folding bicycles have 20″ wheels. By going with 24″ the Sun Traditional trike strikes a perfect balance keeping the frame easy to get on and stand over while still being efficient and smooth. From there, a custom three-post adjustable seat was chosen for strength and comfort, a tall handlebar was used to “bring the bars to you” instead of reaching forward and a metal basket was added at the back for utility. I was once told by a relative “if it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it” and that’s why the tradition lives on with this trike… only now it has a motor to help you move.
The motor powering this e-trike is a powerful, sturdy 500 watt gearless hub spoked into the front wheel. Extra thick spokes were used along with brass eyelets and nipples and double walled rims. It’s not the zippiest motor bit being gearless, there are few moving parts to break and it’s less likely to overheat because of the space inside and lower RPM. The real key to using this thing is building speed as you approach inclines and perhaps pedaling along if it slows down. The motor, as shown in the video review above, struggles to start but becomes increasingly powerful as you gain momentum. It does produce a bit of electronic whirring noise as you go and also drags a bit when the bike is turned off (due to cogging) but is a great fit for the trike in my opinion. Just thinking about the sturdy frame of the trike and the potential for heavier riders or cargo in the rack it’s nice to have a motor that won’t quit.
Powering the motor and beautiful backlit display is a average sized Lithium-ion battery pack. Depending on the power level chosen for this trike you can expect anywhere from 10 to 25 miles per charge and the 5 Amp charger is easy to toss in the basket and quick to refill. The battery is enclosed in a sturdy Aluminum case (as with the charger) and can be charged on or off the bike. Pulling it off is fairly easy once you unlock it using the key… and make sure you take that key out of the pack BEFORE sliding it off because otherwise it might catch on the back side of the basket. This is one area I’m going to complain about, I don’t like having to leave the key in the battery or turn it to activate the bike (making for a two-step process with the display also having a power button (the M on the button pad). The key can get buried by cargo in the basket which becomes inconvenient to reach, or even worse… bent if heavy items are placed on top. The good news is, nobody can tamper with the trike or steal your battery since it has that locking core integrated. I only wish the display panel up at the handle bars was also removable.
The display is absolutely beautiful in terms of design and easy to read since it’s fairly large. This is important for riders who might be aging and struggle reading from afar. I’m a middle aged guy and already struggle to read fine print so this was a delighter. You can read the batter charge level, power level and a host of other smaller more minor stats like odometer, trip meter and max speed. Speaking of speed… the top speed of this electric trike is about 14 or 15 miles per hour but you can reduce it in the menu system (by holding up and down to enter settings) along with reducing amperage. I was told by the folks at Electric Bike Technologies (the people who build the trike) that they can even hard code a top speed for you that can’t be accidentally overridden. For me, the display is intuitive and it’s nice to have different settings to explore but for some it could be a little confusing or overwhelming. In short, turn the key to the right to activate the bike, then hold the M button on the control ring near the right grip, then press up or down to select a power and speed level and then twist the grip throttle. The only other consideration is the reverse button, press that at stop then twist the throttle again to back up. It’s intuitive and very handy for getting the bike through tight spaces. Note that the Sun 24″ Traditional Electric Tricycle is about 30 inches wide (at the rear wheels) verses the more compact Liberty Trike that has a 24″ width and is easier to get through doors. Both e-trikes are made by the same company but the 24″ Traditional is my favorite for how smooth it feels and how large the basket is.
In conclusion, this is a fun and empowering piece of technology that is priced fairly well at $1,500. Don’t forget that shipping is an additional $350 but take heart that the trike will arrived fully assembled and the folks at Electric Bike Technologies will make those custom adjustments to the power and speed levels if you ask. I believe they can also install a three speed hub if you want more than just gear to pedal with and they can offer larger batteries… or an additional spare. I love that they have custom programmed their new displays to match the specific battery voltage curves so the power indicator is more accurate than older versions (especially the very simple older versions with a three-LED readout vs. the five battery bar on the LCD). This is a trike that comes in five fun colors, offers a year long comprehensive warranty and can even be made BY YOU if you buy their trike conversion kit (in case you already own a Sun Traditional Trike and like projects). I’m a fan of turn-key solutions because they have the tools and expertise to wire the cables in a way that’s more hidden, add torque-arms properly to support the power and weight of the motor and cut the basket to fit the battery. This is after all, a converted trike vs. a purpose built electric trike… but it’s one that’s professionally converted at scale. I found myself riding this trike a lot during my visit to Electric Bike Technologies because it was just so fun and didn’t hurt my back or neck like some of the sportier recumbent trikes. As someone who rides electric bikes constantly for my job as a reviewer, this one made me smile even more than usual :) Big thanks to ElectricTrike.com for partnering with me for this review.
- Stable, easy to mount, comfortable to ride or just sit on… this is a fun upright tricycle for adults but as a middle aged guy I had a blast too, it’s super convenient with the basket on the back
- Available in five color combinations, the classic red reminded me of trikes I had as a kid and it just feels fun, most of the add-on electronics (cables, controller, battery box and motor) are painted black and blend in with the tires, seat and grips well
- While most two-wheeled electric bikes I test can hit 20 mph, I felt that the ~14 mph top speed worked great with this trike, it’s possible to get up on two wheels for fun if you try but otherwise stays very stable and part of that is the lower speed
- In addition to a lower speed, the controller on this bike provides five power levels so you can really slow things down if you want, I love that it also lets you go in reverse
- Operating the bike is a cinch, it uses a half-grip twist throttle just like a moped or motorcycle to go and offers variable speed and power depending on how far you twist it
- I appreciate the shiny front fender and paint-matching chain guard that helps keep you dry and clean while riding as well as the larger platform pedals with good surface area and grip in case it’s wet outside
- Given that the battery is mounted inside the cargo basket, I like that the casing is aluminum to help protect it if you put other supplies on top
- The saddle is very unique and highly adjustable, there’s plenty of space on top, it’s strong with three support legs vs. just one post and you can move it up or down along with the high-rise handlebars to get a comfortable body position
- The brake style is easier to use than cantilever (you get more leverage with the v-brake design) and I love that the brake lever has a built in latch to act as a parking brake
- You get a sturdy charger made from the same sort of Aluminum casing as the battery, it’s easy to toss into the basket and take on your rides, since it’s a 5 Amp vs. most 2 Amp chargers you can charge fairly quickly
- While it’s totally possible to buy a tricycle and convert it with an electric bike kit, I love that the conversion here is done for you and they ship ready to ride… I also love the one year warranty and expertise of the company (since they sell a whole line of e-trikes)
- With 24″ wheels vs. classic 26″ the frame is kept lower to the ground and the spokes tend to hold up better supporting heavy weight (the front wheel spokes are extra thick)
- The seat tube is a bit further back from the bottom bracket which allows your legs to rest forward (much like sitting on a sofa) vs. going straight down, this keeps the seat lower to the ground overall which makes it stable and easy to step off
- The front wheel is reinforced with a large torque arm so the powerful motor won’t bend the dropouts, the spokes are larger and have nipples and eyelets designed to brace the rims and reduce splitting and loosening
- The display panel is large enough that it’s easy to read and understand without having to lean in too close, I like that it’s backlit as well but it’s not removable so take care if you park at a public rack or leave it outside in the weather
- The battery box slides into the basket from behind, I love that it’s removable if you want but found that you have to first unlock the pack then pull the key out so it doesn’t snag or bend on the basket… also the battery box takes up some of your cargo space
- There’s only one brake, it’s a mechanical v-brake linear pull style mounted on the front wheel, I sort of like that this model doesn’t have the “pedal backward” brake since it makes reversing easier but some people may miss it
- This trike only comes in one size but in my experience the step-thru frame, taller bars and adjustable seat will fit a wide range of riders if you’re willing to fiddle with it
- With only one pedal gear and a weight of over 75 lbs this is not a bike you’d want to get stranded on if the battery ran out… thankfully the new display offers good feedback about charge level
- The motor is quiet and fairly powerful but it will definitely struggle on the steeper hills (especially with larger riders or a full basket) if you don’t have some speed going in and don’t pedal a bit to help, if you have to get off and walk the bike at least you can still use the throttle to have it power itself forward
- The key has to be left in the battery and turned to on in order to use it… this exposes the key to more damage if you overload the basket and could be a hassle if you forget to put it in or turn to on after loading up (you’d have to dig down and insert or turn it), at least the key is folding so it doesn’t stick out too far
- Official Site: https://www.electrictrike.com/products/sun-traditional-electric-tricycle
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/bfEHTQqY6dGauCXF9