Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Hang on tight – Outrider USA's electric recumbent trikes can go up to 40 mph

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April 16, 2013

Outrider USA's line of electric recumbent tricycles can reach speeds as fast as 40 mph

Outrider USA's line of electric recumbent tricycles can reach speeds as fast as 40 mph

Image Gallery (9 images)

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 th...

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.

Source: Outrider USA via Inhabitat

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
18 Comments

I am wondering about this trend of motorizing perfectly efficient human powered vehicles?

Adding batteries and motors adds weight and problems with charging.

Another thing is reduced exercise.

But if this type of invention gets lazy people out of their couches and cars to experience outdoors and have some healthy exercise, I am for it.

Kääriäinen Heikki Haykey
16th April, 2013 @ 07:32 pm PDT

"... Adding batteries and motors adds weight and problems with charging.

Another thing is reduced exercise ..."

Adding batteries and motors INCREASES the exercise I should say.

Why would one want to "get away from it all" with a vehicle which needs to be recharged if ridden without pedalling, and goes so fast you miss the scenery? Why not go for a smaller motor (say 250 watts) and then add some photovoltaic panels to the vehicle so the battery is recharged as the vehicle is ridden?

This trike has been on the road since December 2009 and has not taken any power from the grid since that date.

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j245/saxeharp/trike/P2190002_zps1a0aa0a0.jpg

Joe Blake
17th April, 2013 @ 01:13 am PDT

I agree that a smaller, lighter, PV panels-powered battery that can be used just to climb serious slopes is a good alternative to commute... provided people work within just a few miles/kms from their home.

Freyr Gunnar
17th April, 2013 @ 02:15 am PDT

It is plain government stupidity to limit electric bikes to 25mph.

My 7 yr old godson can do 30mph+ on his push-bike down a hill near where we live. Why is this allowed and uphill/flat is limited to 25 which is a slower speed than most normal bikes ride at???!!!

Plain idiocy. I bet no member of any Government involved with draconian law making like this has ever even ridden an electric bike!

Madness!

sutski123
17th April, 2013 @ 02:34 am PDT

$8,000-$10,000 for a bicycle? Someone needs to pull their head out because there is NO WAY they are going to sell these at that price. Like all GizMag articles, either not yet in production or exorbitantly overpriced. I was going to say without even looking at the price that this was another $4,000 bicycle but decided to look first. Good thing I did, wouldn't want to look stupid...

To ride the bus to and from work 5 days a week, 52 weeks per year, at $2.50 per ride, I could do so for over 7 years before this thing would be a cost effective alternative. That's assuming it lasts 7 years with no maintenance costs (especially like replacing the batteries which definitely won't last 7 years).

chomper
17th April, 2013 @ 09:39 am PDT

@sutski123

I'm a sprinter and it's hard for me to sprint 30mph+ on a bike let alone sustain it for long. Bicycles are permitted on sidewalks with pedestrians so I can understand why you would limit speeds to 25.

What do you propose, have motorized vehicles going 45 down the sidewalk?

Daishi
17th April, 2013 @ 09:53 am PDT

maybe PV cells a smallish motor and a flywheel with a clutch?

any traffic lights and it spins backup- like a thumper (thresher) diesel does. I'd heard stories of the old steel wheel tractors running all day on a quart of kerosene (grain of salt...)

Kwazai
17th April, 2013 @ 11:16 am PDT

These vehicles, and others like them, aren't being used for pedaling. They, for the most part, are being used as electric vehicles.

The problem with these particular ones is cost. $9 or 10K. For that kind of money you can buy a safer, 4 wheeled, albeit gas powered ATV, and not have to worry about pedaling at all. The ATVs also get phenomenal gas mileage ( ~ 60 MPG ) so the only reason to buy something like this is for the cache of having an electric vehicle.

Tom Phoghat Sobieski
17th April, 2013 @ 11:29 am PDT

@sutski123

In Virginia, motorized or not, any two or three wheeled vehicle going over 35 is a motorcycle.

If you speed on a bicycle, and said speeding was over 35mph, then you can also get a ticket for operating a motorcycle without a license.

The law isn't so much about safety of the rider, but a few hundred pounds at 35 MPH can injure or kill other people.

Bryant Drake
17th April, 2013 @ 02:44 pm PDT

***I am wondering about this trend of motorizing perfectly efficient human powered vehicles?***

As someone who spends a lot of time being sedentary and will never waste time or money on a treadmill or in a gym, I get my exercise by using an electric bike for my transport. With 50+km round trips through lots of hills, that's never going to happen with me on a motorless bike. Whereas I can pedal all the time if I want and put in as much or as little energy as I want .

It's not a bicycle, it's not an EV. It's a human/electric hybrid and yes, I get all the exercise I need. It not only replaces bus fares (if there were any buses here) it replaces gym membership too and is far more pleasant than either.

apprenticeearthwiz
17th April, 2013 @ 04:05 pm PDT

There seem to be a few problems with this system:

1) The motor output drive is not common with the pedal drive so you cannot get any benefit from changing gears under electric drive

2) There is no regeneration... and this need not add weight

3) The motor and battrey should be nearer the bottom and centre of the tricycle stability pyramid.

Overall this is really a neat looking but poorly engineered system.

Goatman
17th April, 2013 @ 08:16 pm PDT

I fully agree with the Goatman.

Bike components are not strong enough to survive a pothole in the trail at 15 mph without collapsing a wheel or popping a tire.

Get the KID a steeper hill.....Maybe he can hit 45 MPH.....( 7 years Old )

Jay Gee
18th April, 2013 @ 06:23 am PDT

Somebody's kid can do 30mph on a push bike?! Me wanna see. Plus, why not just buy a motorcycle?

sk8dad
18th April, 2013 @ 01:34 pm PDT

How would this thing handle turning in a bike path with the types of radii usually designed for slower human powered traffic at 45mph? Remember, narrow stance and can't lean. I want to see a video of that!

sk8dad
18th April, 2013 @ 01:37 pm PDT

The numbers add up nicely for the Outrider: KMX Venom (with options – about USD2k) + electrification kit (USD1k at most)+ battery (USD0.5k)=USD3.5k for 209 Enduro priced at USD6k. The more expensive models have even higher value added.

Bankers in NY won't bother, but DIY folks might try saving a few grants.

YuraG
21st April, 2013 @ 01:37 am PDT

I'm amazed at how erroneous some of these comments are. Let me take some time to address a few.

"I am wondering about this trend of motorizing perfectly efficient human powered vehicles?"

-What better vehicle to electrify than an efficiently-built human-powered vehicle platform? Highly-efficient vehicles mean that less power is necessary to accelerate to, and maintain, a given speed. Less powerful, less-expensive drivetrains can then be used, less energy per mile, and faster recharge times because of smaller overall battery capacity.

When one stops looking at human-powered vehicles as recreational equipment, and starts looking at them as transportation equipment, it's easy to see that there is no better platform for a single-passenger electric vehicle.

"It is plain government stupidity to limit electric bikes to 25mph. "

-I fully agree, vehicles are safer when used at the same speed as the vehicles around them. In most suburban areas this is around 35 mph.

"$8,000-$10,000 for a bicycle? Someone needs to pull their head out because there is NO WAY they are going to sell these at that price. Like all GizMag articles, either not yet in production or exorbitantly overpriced. I was going to say without even looking at the price that this was another $4,000 bicycle but decided to look first. Good thing I did, wouldn't want to look stupid... "

-Find another pedal-electric vehicle that's made in the USA, can travel 40 mph, has a range of over 100 miles, can charge in 1-2 hours, pull 300 lbs, and allows you to exercise. For the utility of these vehicles, it's a bit narrow-sighted to label it as a bicycle. It offers much more utility.

"The problem with these particular ones is cost. $9 or 10K. For that kind of money you can buy a safer, 4 wheeled, albeit gas powered ATV, and not have to worry about pedaling at all. The ATVs also get phenomenal gas mileage ( ~ 60 MPG ) so the only reason to buy something like this is for the cache of having an electric vehicle. "

-ATV's can't be used on the streets, and don't allow the rider the option of exercise while traveling, or operate solely under pedal power.

"As someone who spends a lot of time being sedentary and will never waste time or money on a treadmill or in a gym, I get my exercise by using an electric bike for my transport. With 50+km round trips through lots of hills, that's never going to happen with me on a motorless bike. Whereas I can pedal all the time if I want and put in as much or as little energy as I want .

It's not a bicycle, it's not an EV. It's a human/electric hybrid and yes, I get all the exercise I need. It not only replaces bus fares (if there were any buses here) it replaces gym membership too and is far more pleasant than either. "

-Right on the money!

"1) The motor output drive is not common with the pedal drive so you cannot get any benefit from changing gears under electric drive

2) There is no regeneration... and this need not add weight

3) The motor and battrey should be nearer the bottom and centre of the tricycle stability pyramid."

- 1. There's no reason to change gears under electric power, electric motors have a flat torque curve. (See Tesla Model S)

2. Regeneration adds drag when operated under solely pedal power, and also requires a larger motor and controller, adding weight.

3. Not sure what the point is here, the motor and battery are located about as low and centered as physically possible.

"Bike components are not strong enough to survive a pothole in the trail at 15 mph without collapsing a wheel or popping a tire. "

-Very sweeping generalization. The wheel and tire combo is Industry Nine straight pull, and Maxxis Hookworm tires; very strong, high-strength BMX/MTB equipment.

"Plus, why not just buy a motorcycle? "

-No exercise, maintenance costs, can't operate under slippery conditions, fuel costs, weight, licensing, insurance, etc.

"How would this thing handle turning in a bike path with the types of radii usually designed for slower human powered traffic at 45mph? Remember, narrow stance and can't lean. I want to see a video of that!"

- You wouldn't do this! Just because your car's maximum speed is 155 mph doesn't mean you go around corners in town at 155 mph! These machines corner very well, watch their Pike's Peak video. They set the pedal-electric hillclimb record at 32 mph avg.

"The numbers add up nicely for the Outrider: KMX Venom (with options – about USD2k) + electrification kit (USD1k at most)+ battery (USD0.5k)=USD3.5k for 209 Enduro priced at USD6k. The more expensive models have even higher value added. "

- Outrider is using a 1kW charger, 4.2kW American-made drive system, 93% efficient American-made ceramic motor, 2.2 kWh lithium high-rate battery packs, and CNC machined aluminum parts all over the bike for the drive and mounts. A very high quality, power-dense setup.

You're numbers are spot on if we're talking about an all Chinese-made 0.5kW hub motor, 0.5kWh battery, and 0.3kW charger. But for the power of the Outrider system, there's no other system available that offers those numbers at any price.

I hope this helps correct and clarify some of these posts for readers. One of the biggest problems plaguing the transition to electric vehicles is misinformation, and these comments are riddled with it.

Cheers

Sled
8th May, 2013 @ 09:10 pm PDT

Interesting exchange here! I ride a mountain bike, a motorized trike and a recumbent stationary bike! So I see the merit in all forms of "riding".

Happy Trails!

sisqgal
9th January, 2014 @ 04:42 pm PST

I think many of the ney sayers have never ridden a trike let alone an electric assist trike. I ride both a Catrike Expedition w/Bionx electric assist and a Bacchetta Corsa SS (high racer) that is only powered by my legs. I rarely go on any ride shorter than 25 mi. But for the most part I use my electric assist Catrike to train for riding my high racer longer distances. If U think U can't get a workout on an electric assist trike, U simply don't know what U are talking about. I usually put in about 25-30 mi on my trike with the assist level at the highest level of 4. Getting the greatest amount of assistance. With the Bionx U will be able to get assistance up to 20 MPH, any faster than that and U are doing it on UR own. I try to average 20 MPH for the entire ride. I've never been able to do that. Nearest I ever got was 18.7 MPH for a 30 mi ride. However the point in all of this is that the next day when I get on my high racer for a 40-50 mi ride, it's like I'm floating down the road. I feel so much stronger than if I just ride back to back high racer rides. Now that may just be me. But it works and I can tell U I get an excellent workout on my electric assist Catrike. I'd give my left one to be able to get one of these Outrider trikes. But my wife will not have any of it unless I sell a couple of my current stable of bikes. BTW I'll bet most serious bikers have several bikes in their garage or storage area that they ride. And I'll bet that if U add up the value of those bikes they come to somewhere near 7-8 thousand bucks. Now these bikes will not be electric assist. So when U add the cost of that motor and battery to the costs of these bikes U are probably at or near 10 grand. So pls don't play the "they are to expensive" song. They are expensive, but it's all in what U see as UR hobbie or possibly UR needs and what U R willing to spend.

OldretiredSFdude
5th March, 2014 @ 01:54 pm PST
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