BIKE TEST: PEDEGO TRAIL TRACKERS

 

Dane Morales, World Champion BMX Racer, took to the 24” Trail Tracker like a fish to water. He was begging his dad for one right after we started riding!

 

A little powered assist is confidence-inspiring for the younger members of the family.

 

Fat bikes for the whole family

What’s better than going on a bike ride? The answer is a bike ride with the whole family, and why not make it a fat-tire bike ride? Since we tested the Pedego 26-inch Trail Tracker in the last issue, Pedego has released two smaller-wheeled versions that roll on 20-inch and 24-inch wheels.

The new kids’ bikes look just like their big brother, with 4-inch tires and matte black frames, with the only accent color being the rims (color choice is the choice of the customer at the time of purchase). The bikes don’t use any suspension, as they aren’t made for really bumpy terrain, but instead for riding on smooth dirt, sand or even packed snow.

 

 

THE BIKES

The seven-speed gearing is controlled by a Shimano SIS shifter. It’s easy enough to understand, but pretty long in the tooth compared to the tech on the rest of the bike. Gearing is good; you can use the entire range on a ride, or you can leave it in a high gear and use the throttle to help you get up to speed. This affects battery range, but if you rarely use all five bars on a ride, you can get away with this. It depends on how big of a control freak you are.

Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes can stop the bikes with kids on them just fine, but adults will find them a little lacking in stopping power. The Tektro levers on both bikes feature a bell on the left (front) brake lever, which is a good safety feature.

Although the bikes are meant for kids, they are definitely heavy. When it came to transporting them, since we couldn’t fit them on a standard bike rack, they had to fit in the back of a SUV, and lifting them was a two-man operation.

 

Brothers can ride together on the different sizes of Trail Trackers.

 

MAKE ‘EM GRIN

The smallest Pedego is technically too small for most adults to ride, but it’s a comfortable bike anyway. Unlike the 24- and 26-inch versions, the smallest bike has no suspension seatpost.

 

Fat bikes are all about tire pressure. On-road, more pressure gives less rolling resistance.

 

The 24-incher makes it easily to 20 mph with a powerful geared hub motor. You can throw it around easier than the 26-inch version. It’s comfortable for reasonably long rides, and the assist level limits how fast you can go with assist. Level one gets you to about 12 mph, level two to 14, and so on. Level five gets you to 20 mph rapidly.

With the 24-inch-wheeled model, the pedal assist has a short delay after you start pedaling. Pedego set this specifically so that you wouldn’t be surprised by the bike lurching forward when you first start pedaling either from a standstill or after coasting. Power comes in smoothly after a second or two. If you want the bike to accelerate faster, start it off with the throttle, then back off when the pedal assist kicks in.

 

On loose dirt and sand, we took the Trail Trackers’ tires down to around 6 PSI and brothers Jack and Dane Morales found no surface they couldn’t ride through with confidence.

 

Rider position is very mountain bike-like. Riders will have a reasonable amount of weight on their hands, and expect to be up out of the seat some when going over obstacles. Legs and arms provide all the suspension and stability. Don’t expect useful damping from the suspension seatpost, but they do help take the jarring hits out.

LET ’EM PLAY

We took the Trail Trackers out with a couple of kids to see how the bikes would fare. One of them, Dane Morales, is a 10-year-old BMX world champion. Dane jumped on the 24-inch, while his younger brother, Jack, took the 20-inch bike out. No sooner had they got rolling and they were instantly hooked on the power.

 

The 20” version only goes 12 mph with assist, perfect for trepidatious beginners.

 

The 12-mph top speed for the 20-inch turned out to be perfect for Jack, who was a little more trepidatious than Dane. Since both boys are also avid motocross riders, neither of them pedaled more than a few times the entire time. For them, it was all about the throttle!

 

Older kids and adults can go 20mph with assist on the 24” version, faster if your legs will push you that fast.

 

From jumps to berms, the brothers had a blast on the bikes, and not surprisingly, before too long the batteries were spent on both bikes.

UNDER PRESSURE

Air-pressure modulation means everything when it comes to fat tires. Setting the pressure correctly gives you a little bit of damping on bumps and a lot of grip on most any surface. When riding over sand you can drop the pressure down to as little as 5 psi, and the resulting ride quality was almost like the sand wasn’t there.

The 20” TT has no pedal-assist. A simple throttle can get you to the maximum 12 mph with or without pedaling, and the only display on the bike is the 3-LED array showing battery capacity. Cables are routed internally on all Trail Trackers. Pedego’s LCD is bright enough to easily read in the brightest sunlight. The Avid BB7 disc brakes on both felt a little underpowered to us. There is a color choice on rims that makes a really cool accent on the bike.

 

Airing the tires back up can be more challenging, especially if you’re out on the trail. A small bike pump will take forever to refill a fat tire, and even CO2 cartridge pumps can have issues. Since all the TT tires have Schrader valves, most compressors will easily work with them when you get home.

THE VERDICT

Kids and smaller adults will have way too much fun on these. They’ll make you learn to adjust air pressure to adapt to terrain, and once you have that wired, you’ll be able to go anywhere on any surface. Build quality and power are excellent, and battery life is good enough for kids to have fun and keep up with the adults. The bikes aren’t cheap, but fair enough to consider getting them for the whole family if you ride a lot. The bigger challenge will no doubt be the hard time you’ll have getting them to stop riding.

SPECS

TRAIL TRACKER 24”

MSRP: $3295

Motor: 500W geared, high-torque rear hub

Battery: 48-V/11 Ah Li-ion with Samsung cells in a removable pack

Battery life: 1000 cycles

Charge time: 4–6 hours

Top speed: 20 mph (rider weight, rider input and terrain contingent)

Range: 15–18 miles with normal pedaling (tested)

Drive: Shimano Tourney FT55 7-speed shifter

Brakes: SRAM Avid BB7 disc brakes

Tires: Vee Rubber 24×4.00 inches

Controls: LCD multi-function display with power adjustment features, battery gauge, speedo, odo and time functions

Fork: Rigid

Frame: Aluminum w/ integrated battery pack

Weight: 58.0 lb.

Sizes: 14 inches

TRAIL TRACKER 20”

MSRP: $3295

Motor: 500W geared, high-torque rear hub

Battery: 48-V/11 Ah Li-Ion with Samsung cells in a removable pack

Battery life: 1000 cycles

Charge time: 4–6 hours

Top speed: 12 mph (rider weight, rider input and terrain contingent)

Range: 20–30 miles with normal pedaling (tested)

Drive: Shimano Tourney FT55 7 speed shifter

Brakes: SRAM Avid BB7 disc brakes

Tires: Vee Rubber 20×4.00 inches

Controls: LED display with power level functions

Fork: Rigid

Frame: Aluminum w/ integrated battery pack

Weight: 53.0 lb.

Sizes: 12 inches

Contact: www.pedegoelectricbikes.com