The top motor-only speed of an electric bike can be limited by law to 20 mph (32 km/h), but those taking their rides off-road or to the streets of more lenient jurisdictions may push their vehicles that little bit further. Looking to allow even more scope for performance are Milwaukee-based inventors Dustin Herte and Ryan Bass, whose Odyssey electric trike, fitted with a 4 kW motor, can reach speeds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h).

Five years in the making, the pair have arrived at what they are calling a proven and sufficiently-tested prototype for their electric trike: the Odyssey Mk. 5. Fitted with an 80-volt 1.6-kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery, one charge will be good for a range of 50 miles (80 km) on power only, which if you are prepared to pedal, can be stretched out to 80 miles (129 km).

Herte puts the recharge time at approximately three hours with the charger using a standard 110-volt two prong plug, though he says it also features a switch that makes it compatible with a 220-volt source.

The 3-phase electric motor is computer controlled and, though the trike is shipped with a programmed power limit of less than one horsepower, the included cycle computer allows the user to modify this to anywhere between 80 and 4000 watts (0.1 hp to 5.3hp).

This means the trike can be programmed to match a certain power output and in effect, a desired top speed in order to keep it street legal. Though the computer allows the user to significantly up the output, the company only recommends doing so "if the local law allows for it, or if the vehicle is operated on private property."

Fitted with disk brakes, the 8-speed Odyssey Mk.5 weighs in at 105 lb (48 kg), 40 lb of which are attributed to its steel frame. "This was chosen for ease of modification and more importantly strength, as these trikes are put through some rigorous driving conditions," Herte tells Gizmag.

By way of comparison, what the Odyssey Mk. 5 holds over other electric recumbent trikes in power, it sacrifices in range. Outrider USA's 422 Alpha has a top speed of 40 mph (64 km/h), but can cover 111 miles (179 km) on one charge in motor-only mode, while the HP Velotechnik's dual-battery option allows for a pedal-assisted range of 130 miles (210 km).

Also included with the Odyssey are saddle packs which can be fitted to the battery pack for storage, and the battery itself is removable, allowing for at home or in the office charging. In addition to enabling the user to modify power output, the cycle computer offers an abundance of useful information.

"The computer can display speed in miles per hour or kilometers per hour, amp draw, battery voltage, watt draw, torque, RPM, has a remaining battery capacity gauge and a diagnostics feature," says Herte. "It has three throttle curve settings to facilitate novice riders and also cruise control."

With a Kickstarter campaign underway, an early bird pledge of US$4,500 will put you in line for one of Odyssey's electric trikes, while higher pledge levels include accessories such as head and tail lights and a heated seat. The team is planning to begin shipping in June 2014 if everything goes to plan.

You can see the inventors take the trike for a spin the video below.

Sources: Odyssey Trikes, Kickstarter