Electric bike or tricycle? A 3 wheel electric bike can do both!

Nowadays, more and more people and companies contribute to changing our transport habits by making them more eco-friendly: they are switching from cars to bikes for everyday mobility. You can come across many different types of bikes besides the classic bike such as the tricycle and the e-bike. Today we are going to talk about a mix of both: the 3 wheel electric bike! 

The 3 wheel electric bike: stable and electrically powered

To understand what a 3 wheel electric bike is, you need to know what an e-bike and an adult tricycle are.

First, here’s a little reminder:

  • The e-bike: it is a bike with an electric drive; this means the motor helps you every time you pedal by boosting your speed. Some even have a full throttle which means that the motor will kick in even if you don’t pedal! Thanks to this you will travel faster without being too tired as opposed to a regular bike.
  • The adult tricycle: it is different from the classic bike with its additional wheel. It guarantees a close to perfect stability by distributing your weight equally on three support points. There are two types: ones with two front wheels and ones with two rear wheels.

But what if we told you that stability and electric assistance can be put together? A 3 wheel electric bike is the perfect combination and allows you to benefit from the perks listed above!
Adding electric assistance to a tricycle will make your daily life easier. You will be less tired when you get to work!

However, you need to know how to choose your electric assistance according to how you’ll use it. It will depend on:

  • how often you use your 3 wheel electric bike (daily or just at the weekend),
  • the type of roads you will use whether they are hilly,
  • the load you are carrying,
  • and the distance you are using it for.

The advantage of a 3 wheel electric bike is that you will be much more stable than with a normal bike but it’s still a practical and active means of transport! 

With a 3 wheel electric bike, you can completely forget about the condition of the road, transport your children and loads easily and have a virtually painless daily activity. You can forget about wearing sports clothes for your trips (but not about wearing a helmet!)

Thanks to the increased stability while riding and the relief from physical exercise, a 3 wheel electric bike can be a good choice for people with additional support needs who don’t want to miss out on cycling!  To know more about this topic, check this website out!

Some 3 wheel electric bike technical details: motor and battery

Now we are going to get into the more technical stuff but still make it as simple as possible so that anyone can understand! 

All the different types of motors on a 3 wheel electric bike

When talking about 3 wheel electric bike motors (and motors on normal bikes) we use the word motor “torque” in Newton/Meter (Nm). “Torque” is a concept in mechanics that represents the force that the motor gives during its movement. It is usually between 15 and 85 Nm but higher the torque of the motor, the higher the force therefore easier it is to climb steep hills.  Now that you kind of understand how a motor works, here are the different types:
The motor in the 3 wheel electric bike front wheel hub

The motor in the front wheel hub

This is the easiest place to install the motor on a 3 wheel electric bike and is often the least expensive. Here, the motor doesn’t interfere with the pedals or the chain. This makes it easy and effortless to get going again, which makes it a very popular motor for cyclists, especially on simple and not too hilly routes.
The motor on the front wheel is also the safest as it reduces the risk of the rear wheel losing grip when cornering on slippery roads (front wheel drive).
Another solution is the reduced front motor: there are no gears rubbing against each other to reduce the speed of the central motor (as it is already reduced) so it takes the strain off the bike’s transmission. This extends the motors lifespan, reduces the risk of losing the rear wheel grip and makes the 3 wheel electric bike lighter!

The motor on the rear wheel 

If the motor is placed here, it doesn’t have a feeling of heaviness. However, it is more difficult to get on and off of the 3 wheel electric bike due to the rear shifter. This motor is more responsive because it’s directly connected to the rear transmission. It is very popular among those who like a more dynamic riding.

However, there can be three drawbacks:

  • The presence of a shifter inevitably means:  risk of derailment, and therefore a bit of mechanics and grease!
  • Maintenance becomes difficult as it’s hard to remove the wheel in case of a flat tire
  • Poor weight distribution if the battery is also at the back!

The motor on the bicycle drive (in the middle)

The motor on the bicycle drive is the most sophisticated type of electric assistance. The motor’s power is proportionate to the pressure on the pedals. This means that the harder the rider presses on the pedal, the more power the system detects: the motor then sends more power. This system is controlled by 3 things: the torque (talked about before), the speed and the pedalling rate. The system is like a brain and will instruct the motor to provide more or less assistance.
Thanks to its position, the weight on a 3 wheel electric bike is optimised (better distribution of the bike’s weight, especially if the battery is also on the frame), resulting in a more manageable and stable bike, you will even forget that there is an electric drive: ideal for medium to long journeys.

The motor on the 3 wheel electric bike drive
However, there are some disadvantages:
  • The motor is generally heavier than the other two motors and weighs about 1.5kg. It’s also noisier and more expensive. It’s possible to use better quality components, especially to make the motor lighter, but the price will be higher.
  • This motor controls the chain and gearbox: the components could have a shorter lifespan.
  • It also pulls on the chain, so it will tend to age quicker. Make sure the chain is strong but bear in mind that you will probably need to change your chain and chainring regularly if you use your bike every day.

Different batteries on a 3 wheel electric bike and their position

The first electrically assisted bicycles were equipped with lead batteries (heavy and bulky) and then with nickel batteries (but with a memory effect: you had to wait until the battery was completely out before recharging it, or the battery’s lifespan would be reduced). Nowadays, batteries are lithium-based and there are three types: lithium polymer (Li-Po), lithium phosphate (LifePO4) and lithium-ion (Li-ion). Li-ion batteries are mostly used because they have more storage space while having a low weight and volume and a great life span! For example, a 3 wheel electric bike used daily and properly maintained has a lifespan of 5-6 years. After this, their capacity is reduced, which means you’ll have to charge it more often. A mid-range battery’s capacity is 360 watts/hour. The higher this parameter is, the longer the battery will last (and the more expensive it will be!). Of course, if the bike’s motor is very powerful, it consumes a lot of electricity and therefore the battery’s lifespan will be reduced. In terms of position, they can be:
  • At the back of the seat tube: it extends the 3 wheel electric bike: this solution is suitable for folding bikes with smaller wheels. It is often incompatible with baby seats.
  • On the rear luggage rack: this is the most common position. But if you want to carry loads, you’ll probably need to choose another type as you won’t be able to use the luggage rack!
  • On the bike’s diagonal tube: this lowers the centre of gravity. It’s ideal if you want to carry up to 100L of cargo.
  • At the front: this is ideal for city bikes as it reduces the weight on the front wheel and allows any rear luggage to be used.
But how do I know my battery’s lifespan you may ask? To calculate your 3 wheel electric bike battery’s lifespan you have to consider 4 factors:
  • The battery’s capacity,
  • Your weight: the heavier your weight, the shorter the average lifespan,
  • The electric assistance: choose the right level (low, medium, high), the lower the level of assistance you use, the longer the lifespan. On the other hand, the higher the assistance, the shorter the lifespan,
  • The road: the steeper the road, the more the assistance will consume therefore the shorter the lifespan. The same goes for frequent stops in town. On the other hand, the flatter or more downhill the route, with a limited number of stops, the less the assistance will consume!

The 3 wheel electric bike: a great solution for load transport

Do more with your bike

If you already own a bike or even an electric bike and you want to have a cargo bike without spending a huge amount of money, we might have an idea!

Have you ever heard about our AddBike+? It’s an easy, quick, and reversible way to transform your bike into a cargo tricycle by simply replacing your front wheel with the AddBike+ frame.

The special thing about it: the AddBike+ is compatible with almost all bicycle models available on the market and can even be fitted to an e-bike! This way you can have a 3 wheel electric bike perfect for everyday use and for transporting loads. Just make sure that the motor isn’t on the front wheel, as it’ll be replaced by the AddBike+.

You can even add different modules according to what you want to transport: a Kid Kit designed to transport children, a Dog Kit made to transport dogs and a Box Kit for all kinds of business/shopping/loads you want to transport.

For example: Here’s every dog lover’s favourite: our Dog Kit! Attach the Carry’Dog module to the AddBike+ frame and turn your 3 wheel electric bike into a cargo bike for dogs! This allows you to transport a dog – up to 1.20 m/ 3.9” tall in a sitting position or 35 kg / 77lbs – in complete safety and comfort, and you can take your four-legged friend with you everywhere on all your daily journeys.

And the same system also exists for your children  !

Ask your dog what he thinks: “Woof” means something like “I love it”!

Try a module for your dog on your 3 wheel electric bike

If you don’t need a 3 wheel electric bike, here’s another option

We have another solution, it isn’t a 3 wheel electric bike… but we still wanted to introduce this product that can carry many different loads such as children, shopping, baggage… and it’s electric! This product is AddBike’s U-Cargo! Two versions of this 3 wheel electric bike exist:  The U-Cargo Lite: Not much bigger than a normal but it can carry a lot more! Keep reading to know all of its features: 
  • One size fits all: anybody can ride it because it has a special frame and adjustable bars designed for everyone’s comfort. 
  • Easy-Start: there is a system on the handlebar that starts the motor without having to pedal! It is very helpful when you start on steep roads or if the bike is loaded.
  • Enviolo transmission: this is a system that allows you to go from one gear to another effortlessly therefore making pedalling easier!
  • Connect-Me: by downloading the Bafang Go App you link your phone to your bike and keep an eye on your journey: distance, battery…
  • Kickstand: it has a very stable and resistant kickstand that allows your children to get on and off the bike easily. It is very easy to use. 
  • Rear rack: we saved the best until last! Our center piece: the rear rack. This rack allows you to add nearly any child seat (Thule, Decathlon, Polisport, Ortlieb…). You can ride with 2 children or load up to 80kg/176lbs. 
The U-Cargo Family: This version of the bike has the same features as the U-Cargo lite… and more! It has additional accessories that will make parents’ lives much easier: 
  • Protech’360: this offers protection for your children’s feet, legs and lower back. You won’t have to worry about them touching the wheels or falling off!
  • Switch2Carry: switch your child seat into a storage space in a few seconds thanks to the textile system. This will allow you to go shopping after dropping your kids off at school. 
  • Step’N’Load: this can be a step to help your children get onto the bike or a platform for carrying loads.
  • Front Rack: rack at the front of the bike that can hold up to 20kg/44lbs!
Find the right bike for you and your needs for more stability and/or with electric assistance – and regain freedom and mobility in your daily life! Ready…Set… Go!