E-Trike Assist Systems -- 5+ Manufacturers
An E-Trike assist system has an electric motor to provide pedaling assistance to the degree set by the rider. Depending on rider preferences, the assistance may be at widely varying levels. For example, the rider can select continuous assistance at a modest level, to aid the rider in maintaining a certain speed. The assistance can also be periodic. For example it may be set by the rider to activate to provide help in climbing hills, and the degree of assistance selected can vary with the steepness of the hill.
E-Assist trikes are surging in popularity. They enable riders of all abilities to enjoy riding together. For a number of couples, either the husband or wife can use E-assist to pedal at the same speed as their spouse. The presence of the E-Assist can also allow anxiety-free participation in group rides, since the E-Assist rider does not need to worry about keeping up with the group. Another common use of the E-Assist is to aide recovering from injuries, surgeries, strokes, and serious illnesses. It enables the rider to obtain the recovery benefits & fun of pedaling without the risk of over-straining. As recovery proceeds the rider's level of effort can very gradually increase over time, while the selected level of E-Assist gradually decreases.
John’s Trikes & Bikes carries two basic types of E-Assist systems. The first type is systems that have been pre-installed by the trike manufacturer on particular brands or models of trike. We refer to these as “OEM” systems. The second type is systems that are sold as kits, which can be installed on new or used trikes at the shop. We refer to these as KIT systems. The better brands of both types of systems have been found to be very reliable.
For the OEM type of system, Shimano’s “STEPS” systems are an available option on many ICE trikes and on HP Velotechnik trikes. A Bosch Active Line system is available on the 2019 TerraTrike Rambler EVO. The OEM systems are very well integrated with their respective trikes, and operate quite smoothly, quietly, and powerfully.
We have installed high-quality KIT-type systems on many different trike models, including tandem trikes, with very good performance and reliability. At first glance some of the KIT systems appear much less expensive than the OEM systems. However, most of the KIT systems require substantial installation time, because they have been manufactured to install on bicycles, and usually require additional cabling and mounting hardware to work well on trikes. The exception to this is the self-contained Superpedestrian Copenhagen Wheel (SCW) system, which is only available for 26-inch and 700C wheels. The SCW requires little effort to install on the rear wheel of a Tadpole trike.