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Can You Get a Recumbent Trike as an E-Bike?

Although e-bikes aren’t necessarily ‘traditional’ EVs, they do boost your pedaling with an electric motor. Some models don’t even require you to pedal. And several motoring companies—including Jeep, Triumph, and Harley-Davidson—are getting into the e-bike game alongside existing bicycle brands. But, while you can turn a ‘normal’ bicycle into an e-bike, can you do the same with a recumbent trike?

What are the pros and cons of getting a recumbent trike over a conventional bicycle?

Not all recumbent bicycles are 3-wheeled trikes, BicyclingLife explains. Technically, any bicycle with a laid-back, sitting-down seating arrangement is a recumbent bike. That includes stationary exercise bikes. However, when it comes to real-road models, recumbent trikes are significantly more popular than their 2-wheeled cousins, SportsRec reports.

A black-and-red recumbent Bacchetta Carbon Trike 2.0 on a bike trail
Recumbent Bacchetta Carbon Trike 2.0 | Bacchetta

But why go with a recumbent trike over an upright bike? Firstly, the seating/pedaling position is easier on your joints and back, AARP reports. And that includes your groin, shoulders, and wrists. That’s beneficial both to older riders and to riders with disabilities. It’s also why my siblings and I bought our parents a recumbent stationary bike: our mom has an arthritic knee.

Secondly, the 3-wheeled design is inherently more stable than a 2-wheeled one; this explains recumbent trikes’ popularity over recumbent bikes. And finally, because these trikes are lower to the ground, they’re more aerodynamic than upright bikes, Outrider USA reports. There are even carbon-fiber-framed racing models, like the Bacchetta Carbon Trike 2.0.

However, upright bikes, e-bike or otherwise, have some advantages. They’re more maneuverable, which is helpful both on and off paved paths. Upright bikes’ riding positions and lighter curb weights also make them easier to pedal uphill, SportsRec reports. Plus, because recumbent trikes are lower to the ground, they’re harder to spot.

But, when it comes to pedaling, having e-bike technology is extremely helpful. And luckily, recumbent trike owners don’t have to miss out.

Are there recumbent trike e-bikes available?

Upright e-bikes are available in a variety of forms. There are electronic mountain bikes, high-end road bikes, retro-style vintage cruisers, and inexpensive commuters. And the same goes for recumbent trike e-bikes, aka ‘e-trikes.’

Just like upright e-bikes, there are e-trikes designed for both roads and off-road trails, ElectricBikeReview reports. Some have two wheels in the back, while others have two wheels in the front. And, like upright e-bikes, these electrified trikes are sold with either pedal-assistance, a throttle, or sometimes both.

RELATED: How Do You Charge an Electric Bike?

Plus, if you already have a recumbent trike, some companies can turn it into an e-trike. Laidback Cycles, for example, offers Bosch and Shimano retrofit kits for some of its trikes. Other companies, like Azub, offer some models with and without electric motors.

Pricing guide

A bright-green TerraTrike Rambler EVO recumbent e-trike
TerraTrike Rambler EVO recumbent e-trike | TerraTrike

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There is one more disadvantage to going with a recumbent trike: price. Given identical frame materials and hardware, trikes tend to be expensive than bicycles. And the same is broadly true for e-trikes.

One of the cheapest models is the folding Trident Trikes e-Spike, which retails for $2830, Wheel and Sprocket reports. A higher-end non-folding e-trike like the TerraTrike Rambler EVO starts at $4500. And an off-road-ready model like the Ice Full Fat can easily cost over $9000.

The rear 3/4 view of a gray Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ
Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ rear 3/4 | Specialized

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In comparison, a well-reviewed upright e-bike like the Specialized Turbo Vado SL starts at $3350. But it’s possible to find entry-level e-bikes for less than half that price.

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