As technology advances, there have been improvements in the types of vehicles made. Electric cars, e-scooters, and ebikes are standard, but a recent innovation is catching the eye; electric tricycles or e-trikes.
Many people might wrongly believe that manufacturers made e-trikes for children or older people. However, such people would be pleasantly shocked that there are e-trikes for all ages and classes. There are even some e-trikes capable of carrying more than one person at a time.
Now, let's look at e-trikes, their uses, and a brief foray down history lane.
What Are E-trikes?
Electric tricycles get their names because they are powered by electricity and run on three wheels. The extra wheel in e-trikes offers additional balance for riders, especially those who love to ride on steep trails. The practicality and comfort of e-trikes make them popular with many riders.
E-trikes have two broad classifications, depending on their shape. They are the delta and the tadpole e-trikes. Delta electric tricycles have a single wheel placed in front and two wheels at the back of the vehicle.
The tadpole e-trikes, on the other hand, are shaped like a tadpole. With a more prominent head due to two wheels placed in front and a tail because there's one wheel behind. Apart from the added balance that e-trikes offer riders, there is also the advantage of extra cargo space. The e-trikes are also usually more stable and comfortable than electric bicycles.
However, it's not all smooth sailing for e-trikes. There are some setbacks or disadvantages that come with riding e-trikes. One of the most obvious is that e-trikes aren't as manoeuvrable as e-bikes. With three wheels and a larger size, it's not relatively as easy to zip through smaller spaces like ebikes.
Also, e-trikes aren't as sturdy as ebikes in camber. Camber is the angle of tilt between the wheel and the ground slope. Most roads, even the paved ones, aren't flat. At those sloppy points, it's easier for ebikes to negotiate the unevenness on the streets than e-trikes.
Brief History of E-trikes
Though electric tricycles are now becoming a common means of transportation, they have existed since 1881. The commonly accepted pioneer of the e-trike is Gustave Trouve. The French watchmaker assembled the electric tricycle using an English tricycle and a Siemens motor powered by a Starley accumulator.
By 1888, Fred M. Kimball built the first electric tricycle in America for Philip W. Pratt. This e-trike had a 0.5hp direct current motor paired with ten lead-acid batteries. The contraption weighed a whopping three hundred pounds (about 136 kilograms). The maximum speed for Kimball's e-trike was eight mph.
As of now, there are more than fifty electric tricycle manufacturers globally. Currently, there's an over $2.6 billion market for e-trikes, and various types of e-trikes are available on the market depending on the user's needs.
Like in the case of ebikes, the need for a cleaner environment, exercise, and lifestyle changes have increased the demand for electric bikes.
Features of The Best E-trikes
Before investing in an e-trike, you must check some components before deciding. Every e-trike, regardless of brand, has the same basic features, though the capacities might vary.
The battery is one of the essential components of an electric trike. The battery provides the power that drives the electric motor and other accessories like the display. The larger the battery capacity, the longer it lasts, and the longer distance riders can get on one charge.
For instance, an e-trike with a 100Wh capacity isn't as powerful as an Etrike battery with a 170Wh capacity. E-trike batteries are expensive, so while riders might want the batteries with the biggest capabilities, they should know it will cost a lot of money.
Here's some advice, before getting an e-trike, check the battery capacity. Especially the average distance the battery can go on a single charge. If the distance is long enough for your daily commute, that's one item on the checklist marked.
Another essential feature of an Etrike to be considered is the electric motor. Without the electric motor, the only way to move the e-trike is by pedalling the tricycle manually. The electric motor and battery are the major components that differentiate a manual tricycle from an electric one.
The electric motor's power determines the maximum speed the e-trike can go or the challenges it can surmount. For example, if you live in a steep gradient or mountainous region and have to ride your trike up hilly trails, you need an e-trike with a powerful motor.
Getting a 500W electric motor e-trike should serve all your needs. Another thing you need to know is that there are laws in some places to regulate the power of electric motors you can put on e-trikes.
Like regular ebikes, e-trikes also have two types of structures; step-through and step-over. The step-through frames don't have the distinctive horizontal bar that runs from the handlebar to the middle of the e-trike.
Step-over e-trikes, on the other hand, have a bar, so people have to step over the bar to get on the trike. Step-thru electric trike is the most common type you can see in the market for its convenience, and there are also low crossbar e-trikes if you want to choose.
Older people, people with mobility problems, or people whose dresses will not allow them comfortably to use a step-over trike. They could consider getting a step-through trike.
Apart from looking out for the e-trike's frame, potential buyers with cramped storage spaces should also confirm that the e-trike has a foldable feature. A foldable e-trike makes storage easier.
Where Are E-trikes Legal
Electric tricycles have laws regulating their use everywhere. In the UK, riders have to be at least fourteen. Their electric motor allowance and maximum speed limits are limited to 15.5mph. You can read more about ebike laws in the UK here.
Who Can Ride E-trikes?
No one is unfit to ride an electric tricycle. The e-trike is especially good for young adults, middle-aged and seniors, and people with movement issues.
The stability of e-trikes makes it very good for beginners who want to experience new trails. Most e-trikes have a step-through frame, which makes them relatively easy to mount.
Electric tricycles are an ideal upgrade for bikers who want to go at a more sedate pace. They offer more balance on uneven trails, give riders more comfort, and are suitable for anyone with mobility problems.
Before you make that purchase, check for the electric motor and battery capacities. Also, ensure that the components of your e-trike conform with UK laws and that of your region.