CATRIKE DUMONT ECAT
Enjoying a bike ride from a different point of view
It’s been a while since we last tested a trike, and despite their oddity in design and use, we have to admit that we’ve missed them. There’s something intoxicatingly fun about riding these things. Because the ground is rushing past you as you sit right above it, you feel like you’re going fast even when you aren’t. Catrike is a leading maker of these “tadpoles,” and they recently delivered their folding, full-suspension Dumont eCat trike to test.
The reason the bike is often referred to as a “tadpole” is because it has two wheels up front and one in the rear. The Dumont’s design is ingenious, as the frame folds simply in the middle, and the long chain is carefully dealt with as the bike folds. It happens in two steps: first, you undo the quick release to fold the seat, then another quick release allows the frame to fold. There’s a built-in stand that allows the trike to stand upright while folded, and there are small roller wheels to allow you to transport the trike to your car, into a train, etc.
Folded up, the bike measures about 32 by 25 by 45 inches. It’s not small enough to fit in some trunks, but certainly in the back of a full-size crossover or SUV. Weighing in at 60 pounds puts it at the higher end for most e-bikes and quite heavy to lift in or out of a vehicle. You can make it almost 6 pounds lighter if you remove the battery first, something that may be part of the process as you have to disconnect the cable when you fold
Setting the bike up for a rider starts with unlocking and sliding the boom forward or back to fit desired leg length. There are markings to make it easy to put it back for other riders, and the frame is made of extruded aluminum to minimize flex, with a keyway set up to prevent the boom from twisting.
The two front wheels are 20 inches and the rear wheel is 26 inches. Your hands have rests and comfortable padded grips. The brake levers have locks for when you’re just sitting, the left brake lever actuates the brake on the left front wheel, and the right brake lever actuates the brake on the right front wheel. There’s no brake for the rear wheel, so operating both carefully at the same time is important.
Steering is handled by simply moving the grips manually towards one side or the other, and there’s a tie-rod that connects both sides that changes the angle of the wheels to turn one more than the other to limit sliding while cornering.
The suspension is provided in the rear by a Rockshox Monarch air shock that sits parallel to the seat, providing 50mm of travel but also keeping squat to a minimum to reduce loss of pedal power. As with any air shock, it’s best to set sag at around 25–35 percent, and you can also change the rebound rate. The system is designed for on-road riding, not off-road.
The front suspension has an elastomer damping system and is designed to offer the least road vibration and a smoother ride to reduce hand fatigue. The elastomers provide a mere 12mm of travel, but that’s enough to help minimize fatigue. Depending on rider weight, the elastomers can be swapped out for softer or firmer ones.
The bike is powered by a Bosch Active Line motor that sits up front. It’s a mid-drive mounted on the very front of the bike since you are on a recumbent bike. It offers 50 N/m of torque and up to 270 percent assist in the top level. It will get you to 20 mph and can support a cadence of up to 105 rpm.
“We get excited any time someone sends us a tadpole. They are just so much fun to ride!”
The bike comes with a tried-and-true Bosch Powerpack 400Wh battery. It’s not set up as part of their Smart System, but you can source a 500Wh battery if you need more range. Catrike chose a clean Purion display/control to keep things tidy.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
Tadpoles in general are great for those with balance or strength or back issues that might prevent them from riding a two-wheeled bicycle. It’s a very comfortable, balanced riding position, and when you’re not moving, it is still really comfortable. It’s also just a fun riding experience for anyone. The fact that it’s a Class 1 electric-assist bike just adds to the great feeling when riding.
We get excited any time someone sends us a tadpole. They are just so much fun to ride! It accelerates quickly (yet “gently,” as Bosch puts it) and it’s pretty nimble, with a good turning radius. If you really push the bike in turns, the outside wheel will slide a bit. It almost has to, but they’ve engineered it to keep that to a minimum. The bike is really stable, and there’s little fear that it will tip at any point, and unlike other tadpoles we’ve tried, this one isn’t easy to even get up on two wheels.
The one thing that makes us a little nervous is actually how low the bike sits. It comes with a tall flag, and we’ve seen some smart riders with these getting a much larger flag for more visibility. For our likes, the thin, white pole with the small orange flag isn’t visible enough, especially when you’re on the streets.
This is definitely a bike that’s comfortable for long-distance rides. We could easily see getting a second battery to be able to ride all day, and it wouldn’t be difficult to carry that extra battery. Catrike claims “up to 62 miles” of range, but we call shenanigans on that, that would be a 100-pound rider with a tailwind on flat ground using Eco mode. The 25–40 miles would certainly be doable for a normal e-bike rider.
The adjustable seat has a 1 3/4-inch-thick pad made from breathable foam. You can sit comfortably on it all day. The back of it has places to carry some tools and a specific spot to keep a pump. The locking levers are really helpful to prevent the bike from rolling when you’re stopped and talking to someone. It also helps when getting into or out of the seat.
If you’ve never ridden a tadpole, we highly suggest trying one. It’s a different type of riding that is very stable, very relaxing and, we’ll say it again, fun! If you have any physical limitation that makes it hard for you to ride a regular bike, this is definitely worth a look. The Dumont offers a really smooth ride, it’s easy to get going, and it’s absolutely a good value. If you’re going to travel with it, the folding aspect makes it really appealing.
CATRIKE DUMONT eCAT
Rear shock: 50mm
Motor: Bosch Active Line Plus
Battery: Bosch PowerPack 400Wh
Controls: Bosch Purion
Charge time: 4–5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (Class 1)
Range: 25–40 miles
Rear derailleur: SRAM GX 10-speed 11-36T
Brakes: Avid BB7 hydraulic disc brakes
Rims: Aluminum, 20” front, 26” rear
Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Racer
Weight: 60 lb.
Color choices: Liquid Black, Lava Red, Atomic Orange, Firefly Yellow, Eon Green, Electric Blue, Candy Purple, Moon Rock Silver
Sizes: One size (adjustable)