Riding an electric cargo trike: everything you need to know!

More and more people choose to use a tricycle for daily transportation. Its popularity is increasing by the day thanks to numerous qualities: stability, comfort, positive impact on the environment and many more. But an electric cargo trike offers several advantages that a normal tricycle doesn’t. Including their speed, ease of use, and children or load transportation. This encourages people to choose them over normal bikes or trikes.

What exactly is an electric cargo trike? Could it be a good alternative for your daily trips with your family or for professional purposes? Keep reading if you want to know!

What exactly is an electric cargo trike and what are the perks?

In order to know what an electric cargo trike is, we need to talk about normal tricycles first.

They have 3 wheels, usually two at the front or at the back. This means that you will have very good balance thanks to the stability the three wheels bring. It will allow you to do many things such as cross wet or bumpy roads and even go up a steep hill as slowly as you want without being worried about tipping over!


A tricycle is also good if you are looking for comfort. The three wheels offer more space to have a comfortable seat, sometimes even with a backrest. Much comfier than a bike saddle!

Great for beginners

They are also great for beginners, people who are out of shape or people who just want to have fun and enjoy cycling without thinking about their performance or balance!

So far, everything we have said also goes for an electric cargo trike.

Tricycle drawback:

Even though all these qualities are what encouraged people to prefer a tricycle over a bicycle, they still have a significant little drawback: pedalling to carry the tricycle’s weight (and what you transport) which can make your trips a bit harder. This is something that could discourage some people, but it just depends on what you are looking for in a tricycle!

Having electric assistance on my cargo bike

Don’t worry! If you are one of those who don’t want to buy a tricycle because of this physical drawback, we have the solution: an electric cargo trike!

An electric cargo trike is a trike with a built-in electric motor offering pedal assist power for the rider. Therefore, every time you pedal, the motor kicks in and boosts your speed. Some even allow you to ride without pedalling!


Thanks to the electric drive, you can ride effortlessly without straining too much as opposed to a regular tricycle.

Natural feeling

If you are not sure about how riding an electric tricycle would feel, all we can say is that you won’t feel forcefully pulled forward by the motor, it actually feels quite natural just like a normal tricycle but faster!


To summarise everything said above, the choice between a normal tricycle and an electric cargo trike depends on how you want to use it! If you still want to feel like you are exercising, a tricycle is a great option. However, if you are not looking for the sport side of cycling, an electric bike is probably the best!

Keep reading if you want to discover our guide for buying an electric cargo trike!

Before buying an electric cargo trike what should I be aware of?

If we have convinced you to look into buying an electric cargo trike, there are a few things you should know first!

What is the best motor to choose for a 3 wheel electric bike

The force that the 3 wheel electric bike motor gives during movement is called “torque” and is measured in Newton/meters (Nm). Generally, the average torque is between 15 and 85 Nm. In a nutshell, the higher the motor torque is, the higher the force will be which means that it is easier to climb steep hills, the motor helps you pedal more. Once you have understood how a motor works (in broad terms), here are the different types:

The motor in the front wheel hub

This type is very popular among the cycling community. Indeed, it is the easiest to install and is also very often the less expensive option!  It is very easy to use when climbing hills or when riding in general because it doesn’t interfere with the chains or the pedals. It also doesn’t interfere with the rear wheel so it reduces grip loss when cornering: it is the safest option.

Among the front wheel motors, there is the reduced front motor. It has a device that starts motors with reduced power supplied at start-up. Reducing the power reduces potentially damaging electrical and mechanical shocks on the system. Thanks to this, the motors lifespan is extended, the loss of rear wheel grip is reduced, and the 3 wheel electric bike becomes lighter!

The motor on the bicycle drive (in the middle)

This type of motor is the most sophisticated type of electric assistance. It is controlled by three things: the torque (the motor’s force), the speed but also the pedalling rate. It works just like a brain which means that the higher the pressure you put on the pedals, the more power the motor will send and therefore, the quicker you will go.

As the motor is in the middle of the 3 wheel electric bike frame, the weight distribution is optimized (not equally if the battery is at the back). The bike will be more stable and manageable, you could even forget that there is an electric drive! This is perfect for medium to long journeys.

However, there are 3 main drawbacks:

  • This type of motor weighs 1.5kg on average which is much more than the other two options. There are lighter ones, but they are pricier. It is also noisier and more expensive.
  • You will probably need to change the chain every so often because this motor pulls on it, even if it is strong, if you use your 3 wheel electric bike everyday.
  • This motor controls a few things at once including the gearbox so their lifespan could be shortened.

The motor on the rear wheel

When the motor is on the rear wheel of the 3 wheel electric bike, it takes away the feeling of heaviness, you don’t feel like you are being pulled. If you like a more dynamic experience, this option is perfect for you!

However, there quite a few drawbacks you need to know about:

  • You mustn’t be scared of getting your hands dirty: because of the shifter at the back, the risk of the chain derailing is higher.
  • In case of a flat tire, you’ll need to know about mechanics because it is harder to detach the wheel
  • Most of the time, batteries are on the middle of the bike or at the back. If the motor and the battery are both at the back, this means there will be a poor weight distribution!

                          Copyright: QWIC E-Bike



If you are ready to buy an electric tricycle you should know every little detail about the price, the storage space, the motor and the battery.


The first thing you need to know is that an e-trike is more expensive than a bike or a tricycle. For it to be cost-effective you’ll have to know how much you plan on using it, the distance you will travel and the type of roads you will be riding on before making your decision. If you plan on using it on a day-to-day basis and on hilly roads then buying an electric tricycle is a great idea.

Depending on the quality of the motor, the battery, and the storage space the price will naturally change. Generally: Higher the quality, higher the price.

Storage space

You must really think about what you are going to do with your bike. You have to imagine your life on a daily basis, will you carry your kids? Will you carry loads? Your pets? If so, you will have to consider buying an electric cargo trike bike with storage space.

For this, we have an idea that we’ll talk about later!


The size of the motor is what determines your speed. This mainly depends on your preference, if you are looking to go faster, choose a bigger motor. The EU regulations on e-bikes allow the electric drive to reach a maximum speed of 15.5mph or 25 km/h. Most e-tricycles have a 200 to 250W motor and allow you to reach a top speed of 16 to 25 km/h or 10 to 15.5 mph.


You also have to consider how you will use your electric cargo trike. E-trikes generally have two modes: a full-electric mode and a pedal-assist mode.

On one hand, if you plan on mostly using the pedal-assist mode, you will use less battery than if you use the full-electric mode therefore, you won’t need a very big battery.

On the other hand, if you plan on using only the full-electric mode, you’ll need a bigger battery.
The choice of the battery also depends on the distance and how much you will use the bike.
E-trikes generally offer from 32 km or 20 miles on a single charge in the pedal-assist mode up to 72 km or 45 miles in the same mode. You can also consider buying a second battery to make longer trips.

Battery composition

Today, 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 a larger storage capacity while having a little weight and volume and an excellent lifespan! Those that are used daily and maintained normally will have a 5-6 years life span and 500-600 charge-discharge cycles.
They still work after this period, but their capacity is reduced, which means frequent recharging.

Battery capacity

The battery capacity is calculated by multiplying the battery current (Ah) by its voltage (V). A mid-range battery has 36V and 10Ah, which equals a total power of 360 watts/hour. The higher these parameters are, the longer the battery will last (and the more expensive it will be!). Of course, the more powerful the bike’s motor, the more electricity it consumes and the shorter the battery’s life.

Once you have taken all of this into account, you’ll be ready to buy an electric cargo trike, you still need to read our tips for riding an electric tricycle for the first time just below!


Tips you should consider before riding an electric cargo trike

Just like on a traditional bike, there are things you need to know and do before riding an electric cargo trike to ensure your safety and so that you can enjoy your ride to the fullest extent!

This is a list of tips you must know before going on an electric tricycle ride!

Safety check

Every time you plan on using your e-trike you must check all these things in order to have a safe ride:

    • Make sure your tricycle has all the right safety settings, this includes lights, reflectors…
    • Position the seat or the saddle to your liking and make sure it is fully tightened
    • Your handlebars must be fully tightened.
    • Check the pressure of your tires by pressing on them. If they are not hard this means they are not inflated properly, and you’ll need to top them up


Bike safety checks
    • The most important step in this checklist is the brakes. You must always check your brakes! To do so you can press on the front wheel brake (left handle) and roll the bike forward, if the bike stops that means the brakes are fine, if not they should be fixed before riding.

Wear a helmet

Even though a tricycle is stable, and it is nearly impossible to tip over, you must wear a helmet. First because nothing is impossible. Second, you never know what could happen, you might lose control and hit something, or something could hit you! Wearing a helmet will help prevent big injuries.

Follow the law

Before riding your electric cargo trike you must find out the regulations and laws about bikes in the country you are riding in. Especially if you don’t know the country. This is a tip for your safety but also for others because you must remember that the back (or the front) is wider than a normal bike, you may have to stop to the side and let other people go past. Some countries don’t allow you to ride on the pavement as it is strictly for pedestrians. You may have to get used to riding on the road!

Don’t go too fast

Start by taking it slowly. Allow yourself some time to get used to the tricycle as it is nothing like riding a normal bike. Ride slowly and learn how the bike works. 

Even when you get used to it you mustn’t go too fast either, you need to still be aware of what is surrounding you and need to be able to control your bike in case something unexpected happens.

Imagine a pedestrian jumps in front of you, you need to be able to react in time!

Now that you know everything you need to know about riding an electric cargo trike, you can simply enjoy it!

AddBike’s solution: Turn your bike into an electric cargo trike

You own an electric bike, and you want to have an electric cargo trike bike without spending a fortune? We have the solution!

Do more with your bike

Simply replace the front wheel of your bike with our AddBike+ frame: a few minutes are enough to turn your bike into a tricycle! And it is even reversible! You can add this frame to a normal bike and even an electric bike, assuming the motor isn’t on the front wheel (of course since you remove the front wheel to replace it with the AddBike+). Adding it to an electric bike means you would end up with an electric cargo trike, just like magic!

Depending on your needs, you can add different modules to the AddBike+. Of course, you could use it on its own, but we have 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.

If you don’t want an electric cargo trike, here’s another option

We know this article is about the electric cargo trike, but we still want to give you every option that exists to carry loads!
AddBike also offers an electric longtail! It has been designed to carry any sorts of loads: children, boxes, shopping…
Two versions of this bike exist:

The U-Cargo Lite:

This longtail is not much bigger than a standard bike. It has a large rack at the back that, when you add child seats, can carry up to 2 children. Or, without the seats, up to 80kg/176lbs of loads.

It has a button on the handlebar called Easy-Start. It allows you to start the motor without pedalling. Therefore, it’s very helpful especially when carrying loads or your children. 

The U-Cargo Family:

Even though you can carry children on the U-Cargo Lite, we recommend you use the U-Cargo Family for children transport. Because it has been designed for that purpose. The Family version is totally equipped and has features that will make parent’s life easier:

    • Protech’360: A textile cover held up by a steel frame to protect your children’s feet, legs and lower back.
    • Switch2Carry: The textile system that allows you to turn the children’s seat into a storage space for your shopping, belongings, boxes… This way you can, for example, drop your kids off at school then go shopping without having to go back home in between!
    • Step’N’Load: Wooden step that help children get on and off the bike but also helps you place groceries or loads
    • Front Rack: At the front there is a rack that can also hold baggage up to 20kg/44lbs!
If you don't want a 3 wheel motorized bike, use the U-Cargo Lite
If you don't want a 3 wheel motorized bike, use the U-Cargo Family

Even with your children or shopping, don’t worry it will be very easy to get around thanks to the electric assistance that has a range of 65km/40 miles. You can even add a second battery for longer trips!