Should You Install E-Assist On Your Trike/Bike?

I’ve seen multiple threads on various FB groups lately, debating the issue of e-assist and most seem to revolve around the cardio benefits of a machine fitted with e-assist versus a machine that is not. The “old schoolers” are often the most vocal, insisting that there is little or no cardio benefit to be had from a trike with electric assist and if you want to develop your fitness you need to be slogging your butt off up hills at 2mph and either like it or lump it.
Some years ago football clubs thought that 20 pints after a game and pie and chips before one were the way to go for professional athletes but fortunately we’ve now moved on.. and so have human powered vehicles..

If you un-blinker yourself for a second this actually isn’t too hard to fathom. We generally are more successful at doing things we enjoy doing than we are at doing things we don’t. If you live next to a huge hill (as I do) which must be scaled before exiting your town of residence, at some point that hill is going to stop you getting your trike out because you simply don’t fancy the slog that day. If you live in Holland this won’t be your problem and e-assist may indeed not be a necessity for you but if your terrain looks anything like the Isle of Wight then you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from here. Above is a terrain map of my last ride. 38.55 miles and 3176ft elevation. I could not have touched that trip without e-assist, simple as.

So if the terrain is going to limit your journeys to 7-8 miles around the same area over and over again, you have to ask yourself at what point that small geographical circle is going to become a tad boring..? And if it gets boring, again my motivation to get on the trike is negatively influenced. I’ll also personally guarantee that the cardio I got yesterday from 38.55 miles and 3176ft elevation was significantly more than the cardio anyone has ever received from 8 miles round their township.

There also appears to be a misconception that those with e-assist want to speed around as quickly as possible. For me, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a great deal of the time I turn my e-assist either to the lowest level or off completely. The e-assist is there to “assist” me. What with? Huge ruddy hills that might otherwise thwart me or cause me to think twice about attempting them again. That means I can confidently head wherever I want to go, safe in the knowledge that no hill (or mountain) road can or will ruin my day.

“But you lot just sit there with the throttle on, coasting around..” No we don’t. I use my throttle for two things and they are:

– assisting me to quickly and accurately pull out at junctions
– assisting me in starting off on steep hills

Other than that the throttle is never touched and without throttle my TSDZ2 turns itself off the second I stop pedaling. That’s the other reason I went with a UK street legal 250W motor. I don’t want the motor to pedal for me, I just want a little assistance now and again and if that’s your goal then 250W is more than enough.

Quite simply, I live on an island that is 42 very hilly miles across and 35 very hills miles from North to South. Without e-assist I can explore East Cowes and the surrounding suburbs. With e-assist I can explore the whole island. Because exploring the whole island is much more fun than just exploring East Cowes, I get on my trike whenever I can and go explore. Because I now have no terrain that frightens me I plan trips that are much longer than I probably should and as a result I get cardio workouts that I wouldn’t come close to without e-assist.

So should you install e-assist? Well, that’s up to you to decide but if you live in hilly terrain that limits your travel on the trike then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you install a 250W motor and allow it to open up new roads to you.

9 thoughts on “Should You Install E-Assist On Your Trike/Bike?

  1. A fine article. I agree with your findings on all points. For myself though, I not only live in a hilly part of North America but, I have mountain ranges to cross! For me, the minimum wattage to consider is at least 1000, especially for pulling a fully loaded trailer for camping and sleeping. On level ground, I can turn off the motor entirely and just pedal, as it sounds that you do. I’m not electric yet but I’m going there. I have a 3000w 72v kit picked out that also includes reverse and runs all the lights, including turn signals and USB for charging computers and phones. I may find myself living on the trike full time so the extras will be needed. BTW, I ride a KMX Viper.

  2. Hi Dana. Yes, larger motors have their place and it sounds like you might be one that needs one. I think for most a 250w is plenty but if I was touring constantly with large loads I might think of upping the watts some. Sounds like you’re in for some fun times!!

  3. good article. I too live in a hilly area, indeed our neighborhood is called Hillsdale! I only wanted the tiniest bit of an assist, such as riding down a very slight incline. I also have myopathy which has reeduced my riding from ten miles a day to three. I am getting an assist next month where it will be on the lowest setting and only when I need it. I want to go back to my longer rides and not have to walk my trike up the hill to our home.

    1. Hi Vicky! You’ll love it. It will open up the road for you like never before and you’ll find you’ll be able to ride longer than you ever did, even before the health issues. Let us know how you get on!

  4. Would love to add the E-assist motors to our trikes but they aren’t affordable for us and with having to have them “installed”, your looking at a min. of $1800 to 2,000 each, we only paid $1000 for our trikes!! Sigh maybe some day, they will make a 250W system in the $500 dollar range, till then we Slog up the HILLS at 2 mph!

    1. BJ, installing these is really not complex at all. It doesn’t require many tools and there are enough videos, pics and instructions at eTrike to show you how it’s done. On top of that we have the FB Group that has pushing 300 members, many of whom are experts at installations:
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/eTrike.net/
      Join the group, watch the videos and then pick a TongSheng 250W for $350 direct from China. Even if you struggle with something (and I can’t imagine what) I’m sure you’ll have a friend who’s handy and can follow instructions. Go for it!

  5. I do not have a motor but I ride in a club with several members who do have them. The riders who use them do so because they have medical problems or risks that would otherwise prevent them from riding (or risk the ultimate sanction). They are on the whole at least 10 years older than me (and I am over 60!) They use the assistance sensibly, even not at all, to ride in groups. It’s an insurance policy as much as anything! They all use a fairly expensive solution, by Annad who are in Gap, France, which simply replaces the rear wheel of their touring or cyclosport bikes. A side benefit is that the motor obliges them to turn their legs faster so they use smaller gears (and the don’t need so much assistance in the long run) going up hill. Typically over 100kms range without any difficulty. I should add that I am in France.
    On the other hand it is frankly annoying to see mountain bikers in their 40’s and in full health using a motor to do 30km/h up a trail. It’s just another sort of moped for them!

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