Electric bikes are becoming quite popular, although some riders might be frustrated by the fact that – in many parts of the world – they’re legally limited to a top motor-only speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). Any faster and they’re no longer classified as bicycles, and must be licensed accordingly. If that's not a problem for you, however, then you might be interested in Outrider USA’s line of pedal-electric recumbent tricycles. Not only do they look pretty spiffy and comfy, but they can reach speeds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h).
Based out of Fletcher, North Carolina, Outrider offers three main models of trikes – the 311 Solo, the 411 Hyperlite, and the 422 Alpha. Buyers can also mix and match components and functionality to create their own custom model.
All of the trikes can be either purely human-powered, pedaled with assistance from the 3-phase brushless DC motor, or purely electrically-powered. They also all feature a lithium-polymer battery that can be fully charged from a standard 110-volt outlet in 90 to 180 minutes, depending on the trike model.
The range per charge depends on how much the user is willing to pedal, how much motor assistance they select in pedal/electric mode, and the power of the battery – which varies with the model. The lower two models, the 311 Solo and the 411 Hyperlite, have a reported motor-only range of 56 miles (90 km) when traveling at 20 mph. The 422 Alpha, by contrast, can manage 111 miles (179 km).
The trikes also all feature head- and tail lights, a rear rack, and an onboard computer that keeps track of things like battery life, motor power, distance traveled, and speed. Components are largely made by SRAM, with Avid mechanical disc brakes. Weights of the trikes range between 86 pounds (39 kg) and 99.5 pounds (45 kg) – so yeah, it’s good that they’ve got motors.
As far as the licensing issue goes, Outrider company co-owner Jesse Lee thinks it shouldn't be an issue under the proper circumstances. "Each ultralight adventure vehicle we ship is equipped with three 'power modes'" he explained to us. "The first power mode, which is what the customer receives as stock programming, regulates the power to a 750 watt maximum and speed to a 20 mph maximum for legal use anywhere in America. The other two modes allow for incrementally higher power levels and therefore higher speeds. These are recommended for off-road use."
As for pricing ... expect to pay US$7,995 for the 311 Solo, $9,995 for the 411 Hyperlite, and $11,995 for the 422 Alpha. The 422 can be seen performing a record-breaking climb of Pike’s Peak, in the video below.
For another example of a rather impressive recumbent tricycle, check out Jim Artis’ extremely-augmented Catrike 700.