- A full suspension, fat tire, recumbent electric trike designed for off-road fun on trails, sand or snow, powerful 500 watt rear-motor with throttle and pedal assist modes
- Adjustable length boom and tilting seat accommodate a range of riders, large backlit display offers adjustable speed and power settings but isn't removable
- Rear-mounted battery and motor make the bike rear-heavy but afford space for bags and there are four pairs of bottle cage bosses for fluids or accessories
- Heavier and a bit flexy due to the larger wheels and battery rack mount design, this is a conversion ebike vs. purpose built so there's more wire clutter, key must be left in to ride but collides with the rack if you pull the battery out for independent charging
The Sun Seeker Fat Tad fills me with excitement and a sense of “go anywhere” adventure even without the electric motor systems that Electric Bike Technologies has added here… The fat tires, full suspension setup and soft adjustable seat make it feel like floating as you ride over grass mounds. In the video review above, one of the engineers (Alec) and I rode around a gravel parking lot, over some concrete blocks and across some hilly sections of grass occasionally catching air and skidding. It made me feel like a kid again, pushing the limits and grinning when we got away with a daring maneuver like riding on two wheels. While the rear mounted motor and nine-pound battery pack make it rear-heavy (and there is a bit of frame flex and wheel tilt), the trike performed surprisingly well and felt solid. An oversized torque arm secures the hub motor on the left rear dropout while a 90-degree metal angle protects the derailleur and motor cable on the right. You get 24 gears to pedal with, and that’s very nice given the 80 lbs of weight you’re moving around (in addition to yourself) but the trigger throttle with instant power significantly helps when starting. This is the kind of electric bike that you don’t have to pedal if you don’t want to… unless you’re ascending a steep hill starting from zero. There are grip shifters on both bars, a button pad on the left to control your power and speed and a trigger throttle on the right. To me, it sort of feels like a fighter jet, just the way you’re sitting and situated. Many times with recumbents, I get a headache from the weight of my helmet adding to my head, straining my neck so I can’t enjoy riding around. This is exacerbated by skinny tires and lack of suspension… so with the Fat Tad, the ride is much more comfortable and enjoyable. In some ways, it’s a large, heavy and inefficient platform but the battery and motor are powerful enough together that you overcome and end up go places and do things that other electric bikes and trikes just can’t… like sand, snow and soft Earth. It’s also more stable at rest and the seat is higher so mounting (squatting down) didn’t agitate my sensitive knee the way some of the sportier lower models sometimes do. Sure, you might have to buy a trailer for your car to pull this thing around (check Harbor Freight for cheap ones) and yes, there’s a $350 shipping fee unless you can drive to Pennsylvania and pick it up, but the price isn’t ridiculous at ~$2,500 and you get a solid warranty backed by a company that has been in the ebike business since 2010.
Powering this tadpole style recumbent electric trike is a rear-mounted internally geared hub motor putting out 500 to 1,000 watts at up to 45 Newton meters of torque. It’s zippy and you an hear a bit of electronic whirring in the video… but it’s not too pronounced given the large studded tires. I like that the motor is in the rear because you get more traction, especially with the battery pack and possibly some gear mounted above. The rack is done about as well as it can be from my perspective but the front struts are longer and nearly 10 of your 55 lb max weight is taken by the battery. Honestly, given the way the rack sways and flexes a bit, I’m not sure I’d overload it with gear. Probably aim for pannier side bags to keep weight low and reduce some of the flex. I love that there are extra bottle cage bosses to spread out cargo and make it easier to reach and I like the adjustable mesh saddle.
Powering the motor and LCD display is a sturdily packed 48 volt 10 amp hour battery pack. It’s filled with long lasting, lighter weight Lithium-ion cells but they aren’t the highest energy density or quality. I don’t love that the key has to be left in the battery pack and turned to on in order to ride the bike with power. It’s a minor gripe but there’s reasoning behind it because it can be difficult to reach in this position when pannier bags are added, it can snag them and if you try to pull the pack out without removing the key it will collide with the support rods on the rack and could bend or break. Not perfect but not a huge price to pay for a more open-source design. You can replace this battery more easily and with third party options down the line. The Electric Bike Technologies company, which owns E-BikeKit.com sells a range of options, has a long history of supporting their products and have not locked them off to other brands. So in the future when batteries are lighter or cheaper or just higher capacity you can still use your trusty old platform. And the Fat Tad is made from sturdy Steel tubing that should last. I guess the only other wish-list item I have regarding the battery is that it would power some lights or have a USB port for running portable electronics. It’s just a simpler design and that’s part of what keeps the price reasonable.
Activating the bike involves charging the battery (on or off the rack), inserting and turning the key, then pressing the power button on the control pad near the left grip. From here, the beautiful backlit LCD comes to life showing battery charge level, speed, power level and some ride stats. Depending on the level chosen, both pedal assist and throttle mode will be limited. This was a bit of a bummer to me because I sometimes ride in lower levels of assist then BOOST with the throttle to climb hills or catch up with friends. As it stands, you have to arrow up, up, up then boost. Now, the benefit of this moderated design is that it’s harder to get out of control and doesn’t require the fine hand motor skills to ease into the throttle at all times. You can set the power to level one or two and completely open the throttle without risk of getting out of control or going too fast. Depending on your courage to enter and explore the display, you can also adjust the power output, lower the maximum speed, turn off pedal assist or throttle and even map the power curve of a new battery so the display reads more accurately. That’s pretty cool, very few ebike systems I’ve tried allow all of this.
All things considered, this is not only a unique electric bike, it’s well supported and well priced. It might just be my favorite in the lineup from ElectricTrike.com but I actually love the Sun Traditional as well, just for how simple and useful it is with the rear basket. The knobby tires here do cut into your maximum achievable range and can make you feel paranoid that a hive of bees is right on your tail (due to the distinct noise they make). Do air them up to ~20 PSI for maximum efficiency and then down to as low as 5 PSI to handle snow and sand well. Note that the faster you ride, especially above 20 mph, the faster your battery will drain. This trike uses a few basic parts like the cheap plastic pedals and I wasn’t thrilled with how the cadence sensor was mounted (blocking the smallest chainring) or the limited range and adjustability of the suspension… but it got the job done. There’s only one size but the frame is fairly adjustable to fit a range of body types and the classic red color is fun. I’d like to thank Alec and Electric Bike Technologies for partnering with me on this review, they flew me out to see all of their ebikes and even filmed with me when I was sick! Thankfully no one got ill. This trike made me laugh and smile and I admired their American-built philosophy even though some of the parts just couldn’t be found without going direct to Asia. They partner with J&B for the frames but do some custom stuff locally as well as assembly, shipping and support. The bike is designed to arrive “ready to ride” in a huge box… that your cat or kids will love :)
- I love that in addition to offering rack-mounted storage in the back, there are several sets of bottle cage bosses (on the support bars of the seat and on the steering bars), this spreads weight out and allows for things like locks or fluids to be more accessible when riding
- Given the 80 lb weight of the trike, I love that they offer 24 gears to work with and have upgraded to SRAM components
- This is one of the only fat tire recumbent electric trikes I’ve ever seen and I love that it offers full suspension to boot! some of the components are lower-end but the price point is fantastic at ~$2,500
- Highly adjustable boom and seat accommodates a range of riders and offers different body positions, I tend to prefer a more upright seat but others like the way-back aerodynamic setup… it’s all possible here
- The wheels are all the same size making it easier to replace tubes and tires, I appreciate how comfortable fat-bike tires are when riding off-road as they span cracks and absorb vibration
- You get lots of adjustability with the Electric Bike Technologies display including max speed, power and battery curve… their system is more open-source so you can use your own battery down the line if you want and even map its discharge for accurate battery readouts
- I love that this trike offers throttle on demand to help you get moving as well as pedal assist, the throttle overrides assist for extra help if you’re pedaling along and need to pass someone or climb a hill
- You can buy the motor, battery and display kit from Electric Bike Technologies and transform your own Sun Seeker Fat Tad if you’d like… they even have video tutorials and stuff
- The hub motor was customized specifically for this bike, it offers more torque and is spoked into a fat tire with a longer 190 mm axle
- Electric Bike Technologies is the parent company of E-BikeKit.com which has been doing kits since 2010 and is based in the US where much of the labor, accessorizing and customizing is performed… they still sell replacement parts and do service on some of their oldest kits which is reassuring
- I liked how the seat was a little higher due to the fat tires, I didn’t have to bend down quite so far to sit and get back up
- Three amp charger will fill the battery quicker and it’s built into an Aluminum case for strength, I’d probably toss it into a trunk bag and keep it with the bike on the rack all the time
- Since this thing is kind of a beast and might take damage on rough terrain, I love that they sell replacement parts and it’s more modular… probably less expensive to repair
- Heavy and flexy, the Fat Tad Electric looks awesome but those big tires, rear-mounted battery, rear-mounted motor and mid-frame pivot point create a ride that isn’t especially stiff or responsive… it does feel stable however, given the three-wheel design
- I’d probably limit how much cargo I stow on the rear rack because it’s mounted further out and already supports the 9.3 lb battery pack
- I appreciate the disc brakes, one on each wheel which helps you corner, but would have opted for 180 mm rotors vs. 160 given the size and weight of the bike… I’d also love hydraulic vs. mechanical
- Note that shipping costs $350 extra but the Sun Seeker Fat Tad arrives fully assembled and ready to ride, I like that you can opt to drive to Croydon Pennsylvania and pick it up if you so choose and save on shipping
- The display panel is larger than normal which helps you read it but it’s mounted way up front, thankfully the control pad is on the left grip and easy to access while seated
- Only one color option and one frame size but it’s adjustable and this simplification keeps the price down
- This is a conversion trike meaning the motor, battery, display and wires were added to an existing non-electric bike… they did a good job setting it up and adding a torque arm but the overall look is less clean and some compromises were made to fit the throttle and button pad in, they aren’t perfectly easy to reach and use
- I noticed that the cadence sensor sort of interfered with the front chainrings, perhaps that will be refined or was just setup incorrectly on my demo bike
- Throttle power is limited by the level of pedal assist you choose, for a more aggressive off-road bike like this it would be nice if you could use full power at any time given the variable speed design of the trigger throttle… but at least the system does let you disable throttle or pedal assist, set a max speed or limit Amperage so it can be toned down for mellow riders or those with special needs
- The key must be left in the battery pack when riding and if you have a keychain it could rattle around or snag on a pannier bag, you have to take the key out in order to pull the pack off or it could collide on the rack bars and bend