Bike Test: TerraTrike EVO Rambler
Fun on three, and sometimes two, wheels
We don’t get a lot of three-wheeled bikes to test here. This one arrived at our offices, pre-built, in a box big enough to hold a large family refrigerator. We are not joking. This is the kind of box you dreamed about having as a kid—big enough to build a fort for you and your buddies!
As trikes go, this TerraTrike is pretty cool-looking. The comfort mesh seat is the central point, but the 20-inch wheels with brake discs on both front wheels, the direct steering setup and the adjustability all make it look well built and like it will be fun to ride before you even try it.
The system comes preset with a pretty intelligent controller. You simply turn the battery switch on and the system is ready to go and uses a torque sensor to know when to provide power. There is an optional wired controller that can increase or decrease assist level, turn on regenerative braking (great for steep hill descents) and introduces a 2-mph reverse crawl mode that allows you to back up. There’s even a forward crawl mode in case you need help to get moving from a stop on a hill or you forgot to downshift when you came to a stop. There is also a smartphone app for controlling and tweaking the motor settings, but as you’ll read below from our experience, it’s not really necessary.
To order the bike in your size, you first must use a special measurement called the “X-seam,” which is measured while sitting against a wall from your closest part against the wall to the soles of your feet. The bike is set up to order, but there is some adjustability. The adjustability of the frame may result in needing to shorten or lengthen the incredibly long chain. It’s so long that there are two long, tubular chainguides to keep it from sagging too much and dragging the ground or chewing up the frame.
The pedals and front chainrings are the front-most part of the bike. Large straps are on one side of each pedal to hold onto your feet if you so desire. We found it okay to just use the flat side of the pedals, as the bike fit was really good. The mesh seat is on an adjustable rack that can sit you more upright or laid back depending on your preference.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The obvious person this bike is designed for is people who have difficulty sitting or balancing on a normal bicycle. After riding it for a while, however, we think anyone can have a great time riding on this trike. It’s far sexier than a traditional upright trike, and a lot more thrilling because you’re low and feel like you’re going pretty quick, even when you aren’t going that fast. It’s very comfortable for long rides and has the range to help provide that.
As easy as it was getting the trike out of the box, getting it through a door isn’t as simple. At 35 inches wide, the wheels and hand grips can get stuck on the sides if you try to wheel it out. We had to lift the TerraTrike sideways, which was easy for two people, but owing to its 64-pound weight, it’s a bit harder to heft it all alone. Fortunately, the weight feels fairly evenly distributed, despite both the large rear-hub motor and battery at the back wheel.
The riding position is low. You feel almost like you’re in a go-kart, which quickly brings out your inner 10-year-old! On bike paths, this thing is incredibly fun. On the streets, you can’t help but feel more invisible than you do on a regular, upright bike, and it can be a little disconcerting at first. We recommend attaching a flag and maybe wearing a high-vis jacket and a bright helmet. The bright color of the bike does also help increase your visibility to others.
“ If we kept our shifts on point, there was nothing this bike couldn’t climb on pavement.”
On the bike path, we opened it up and quickly got to a comfortable cruising speed of around 12–15 mph. The EVO Rambler is very stable, with no wobbles and very confidence-inspiring, direct steering. The one thing we quickly discovered was that you do have to slow down for corners, as the three-wheel configuration with two front wheels means they need plenty of traction. We went hard into a couple of corners, and with the low center of gravity, sometimes one wheel would skid through the corner; other times we got the trike up on two wheels, something we recommend against doing.
Braking is achieved through Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, one on each of the front wheels. Grabbing a handful of either brake lever can lock up the wheel, but it will merely skid and throw the back wheel sideways towards that side. Having a dual cable on one side that could also work with the rear wheel would add better braking and stability during braking.
We found that if you grab both brakes hard at the same time, the EVO Rambler can slightly endo by bringing the back end of the trike up almost 2 feet off the ground. Recreating the endo in a more controlled environment showed that it was easy to bring the back end up a little, but never enough to fully flip the trike forward.
“You feel almost like you’re in a go-kart. It’ll bring out your inner 10-year-old! ”
Since there’s no suspension, any bumps you go over will be transferred to the rider. Unlike a traditional bike, you can’t raise up off the seat to use your legs for damping the bumps, but with the mesh seat covering your back and butt, all bump energy is spread out over a larger area, and there’s a tiny bit of flex in the chromoly frame.
The gearing on the trike is fantastic. It’s a 3×8 setup, and the granny gear is so low that we took it up some really steep hills to see what it would do. Under hard loads while climbing, the gears sometimes wouldn’t shift, requiring us to let off the power and let it shift.
That said, if we kept our shifts on point, there was nothing this bike couldn’t climb on pavement. We did this without ever tweaking the motor settings with the app. The Falco 750-watt motor is the most powerful legally allowed in the U.S. TerraTrike has done their homework on setting it up too. The factory settings are amazing. Using the torque sensor and programming they’ve put in, it accelerated, climbed and cruised very intuitively. You feel the motor kick in to add power instantly, but it’s not surprising at any point. It’s fairly quiet, and since it’s behind you, you feel it more than you hear it.
Sometimes, at slower speeds, the motor seems to pulse, possibly because it doesn’t have enough torque input. Once you’re going, though, it zips up to 12–17 mph pretty quickly.
Another appreciated feature was the trike’s turning radius, which is really tight, making U-turns very convenient. If you have to stop on a hill or incline, both brake levers have a locking button that will easily hold the trike in place. Without the optional controller, if you do need to back up, you have to push it. With the controller, it will crawl backwards at 2 mph, and you can set up regenerative mode to allow motor braking, which is especially helpful on steep descents to save your brakes and possibly put a few drops of energy back into the battery.
Since we were having fun and testing it on hills, we also took it on a fire road. It climbed very well, but on the really steep part, the rear wheel couldn’t keep traction and spun out. The tires are set up to roll smooth on the street, so we’d have needed a knobby tire to really get up steep dirt trails. Descending that fire road, going over rocks and some small rises, even getting air a couple of times, was absolutely a blast. The bike feels solid enough to go off-road, but it would need different tires to really do it right.
The low seating position makes the TerraTrike EVO Rambler a really fun bike to ride. We found it thrilling and a cool change of pace from riding a normal bicycle. The same low position makes it very hard for traffic to see, so we think you’d be far better off staying on bike paths than city streets. If you like long-distance rides but can’t handle a traditional bicycle sitting position, the TerraTrike is definitely worth a test ride. Well built by a company who specializes in trikes, the EVO Rambler model is their electric option, and it’s a good value for the price.
Motor: Falco 750W direct-drive rear hub
Battery: Panasonic, 36V, 11.6 Ah/417 Wh lithium-ion
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (with assist)
Range: Up to 60 miles (Claimed)
Brakes: Avid BB7 mechanical disc
Tires: Schwalbe Energizer, 20 x 1.75 inches
Weight: 64 lb,
THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION
In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google.
For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345
Got something on your mind? Let us know at [email protected]