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The Personal Activity Vehicle 3 (PAV3) from Worksman Cycles is a tricycle designed for full sized adults and those looking for comfort and cargo hauling ability. I visited Electric Bike Technologies in Croydon Pennsylvania to check out their electrified version of the Stretch trike which uses a 500 watt gearless hub motor and 48 volt Lithium battery pack from E-BikeKit.com and sold exclusively from ElectricTrike.com. Before I dig in too much, the point of sharing these details is that people who already own the Stretch could get their own motor and battery pack (the same ones shown in the video review) and convert their bike to electric with a bit of effort. For me, the motor really let this trike shine because it’s fairly heavy and only has three gears. It goes from something neat but potentially exhausting or short-ranged to something more useful and dynamic. For people who don’t have a license, this could be a great way to get around and actually haul food or fishing gear. While there are many other tricycles and recumbent trikes out there to explore, this is one of the most solidly built and comfortable. It has super-thick 11 gauge spokes in the rear with three inch wide tires! This is getting into moped and motorcycle hardware territory and that’s what makes it so capable. You can load the trike with up to 550 lbs of weight including the passenger. For those who don’t enjoy saddles or might not have as good of balance, the chair with arm rests is a great fit. It improves rider stability once seated but since the arms swivel up, it’s not too difficult to get on and off of (though the trike is a bit low).
As mentioned earlier, this trike uses a 500 watt nominally rated gearless hub motor mounted in the front wheel. This wheel also uses extra-thick 12 gauge spokes but has a more traditional tire. The hub motor is very quiet even when it’s peaking near 1,000 watts in the highest power level. For best results, I’ve found that pedaling a bit at start and when climbing will unleash the full power of the motor. These gearless designs aren’t as torquey but they tend to last longer than gearless. They are a bit heavier and suffer from cogging if the bike is turned off so keep an eye on the battery level and consider taking the charger along in the basket just in case you decide to adventure further. Getting stranded with this thing could be a nightmare given the awkward size and weight. Even loading it in your own car or truck could take some doing and might require a friends help.
Powering the trike is a large 48 volt 10 amp hour battery with light weight, long lasting Lithium-ion cells. The pack is encased in Aluminum making it tuff which is great because it passes through the rear basket and might get covered up by gear. The pack has a handle at the back making it easier to slide off and carry around, just under the handle on the right side is a charger plug and catty-corner on the front left is the ignition slot. Here is where you’ll need to insert and turn the key in order to start the bike. This key must remain in the pack, like a car, when riding and I found that it was a bit tricky to reach between the back rest on the seat and the wire mesh basket. This might be due to the seat position we had set up, the seat does slide forward and back to accommodate people with different leg lengths. Ultimately, the battery works fine and is covered by the one year comprehensive warranty from ElectricTrike.com.
Operating the bike isn’t quite as simple or quick as with more mainstream purpose-built electric bikes but it’s fairly typical. Turn that key then press the “M” button on the control pad near the left grip for a few seconds. The display panel comes to life showing battery capacity, speed, power level and a few other readouts. I love the size and position of the display because it’s very easy to read. You can swivel it forward and back to reduce any glare and at night it can be backlit if you hold the up arrow on the control pad… I might leave it off because it could be distracting. The only gripe I have about the display is that it is not removable. This means it could experience more weathering if left outside, and given the size of this trike that could be fairly common. Thankfully, the battery is removable so at least you can avoid extreme heat and cold (which both degrade the cells more rapidly). Coming back to the display, as you arrow up and down between level 1 and 5 the trike offers more power and a higher top speed. For those concerned about going too fast, the display lets you set a maximum speed (hold up and down simultaneously for a few seconds to access these settings). Making the trike go is a matter of selecting the power level then twisting the half-grip throttle on the right. Note that the red button mounted to the grip here activates reverse.
Some of the older trike kits I’ve reviewed were simpler but less well made. The Worksman Cycles PAV3 isn’t as complicated to use as an automobile but it’s definitely a step up from a regular tricycle. In addition to the motor (which can have throttle and pedal assist modes) there is a three-speed geared hub in the rear for pedaling. I love this feature because it makes pedaling more comfortable at a range of speeds. Even if you’re not pushing much, it’s nice to move your legs for increased blood flow and flexibility. One concern that some riders might have is foot stability so the added foot-straps are a real bonus. I rarely see this sort of thing and while you could probably figure out an after-market solution, it’s cool to have them from the get-go. My final thought on this trike is that it uses some basic parts (like the front brake) but has a solid motor system and offers a very approachable ride. It’s stable, easy to mount and fun to pedal without being dangerous… especially with the lower speeds. This trike isn’t as likely to tip from side to side because the seat is mounted low and towards the back where the two wheels are. Even the steering, which brings the bars way back to you vs. making you lean forward to reach them, is comfortable but also safe. Turning sharp is difficult without putting your arms way out from side to side. Your turning radius is reduced but the propensity to tip is significantly reduced. This is a niche electric trike to be sure but I think it’s amazing and potentially very empowering. Not only does it make cycling possible for people who weigh more or aren’t as balanced and stable, it can get shipped directly to you door ready to ride without assembly and it’s made in America… from the frame and assembly of electronics to support and shipping this is a bike that’s produced on the East Coast. Some of the battery and motor technology come from Asia but compared to many other products, this is a much more local product and the team is very cool.
- Sturdy build with a 550 lb maximum weight limit, way more than most two-wheel electric bikes I review (they tend to max out at 250 lbs)
- The seat offers more support than traditional saddles and even the woven designs on other recumbents I’ve tried, the arm rests help to bolster you from the sides but also fold up out of the way if you want, the seat also slides forward and back to accommodate with different leg lengths
- Durable gearless hub motor should withstand years of use and works well once you get it moving a little (not super powerful from standstill), I love that they added a large torque arm to help disperse motor torque into the front fork without damaging the dropouts
- Fat and tough Kenda Flame tires provide a bit more comfort and durability than traditional bicycle tires, even the spokes on this bike are thicker like a motorcycle
- The handle bar extends way back so you don’t have to lean forward to steer and the angle is highly adjustable, this creates a more relaxed ride
- In addition to the default forward drive mode, there’s a simple red button that let’s this trike go in reverse making it easier to park and just maneuver (given the wider turning radius)
- Nice chain cover to keep your pants clean and snag-free, the little fender up front should reduce some splashing but isn’t full length… mixed experience
- This is one of the only electric bikes I’ve ever seen with foot straps! Given the extended leg position and possibility of riders who need extra support due to weight or limited mobility I feel like this is a cool feature, it reduces the chance of a slip and foot drag
- Three-speed drivetrain is more than I expected, the gears are internal so you can shift at standstill and the hub is well protected at the rear
- The display is large, making it easy to read, and the controls are simple to use with just a bit of practice, operating the bike with the twist throttle is reminiscent of a motorcycle and very intuitive and smooth
- The battery pack locks to the frame for security but can also be taken off to reduce weight or charge separately, it has a tuff Aluminum case which helps protect it if you put gear on top (since it’s mounted inside the rear basket)
- Nice metal-mesh basket provides space for musical instruments, hunting supplies, video games, extra clothes, groceries, books and whatever else you might want to bring along for the ride
- With a top speed of 20 mph this is a very capable trike but the display actually lets you tune it down if you want, reducing max speed to help avoid accidents and lessening torque for even smoother starts
- Sturdy, relatively quick charger is compact and light weight so you can toss it into that rear basket and bring it along to help extend your range or limit the inconvenience of getting stranded with a low battery
- I like that the frame, motor, battery pack, pedals, seat and basket are all black because it matches and helps to hide the black wires for shifting, throttle and power better… you can pay more for a custom frame color if you’d lie but if you stick with black just be careful riding at night and consider some lights or reflective gear since you’ll be sitting lower than more traditional bicycles
- The brake lever has a lock built in so you can use it to keep the bike from rolling when you park, it also has a motor inhibitor so you aren’t competing with the motor by accident when you pull it
- To me it’s pretty impressive that you can order this bike and have it arrive fully assembled and ready to go for just $350, especially given how large and heavy it is
- Worksman builds their bikes in the USA and that’s also where E-BikeKit and Electric Bike Technologies is from so much of this is local
- While it’s true of most low-speed electric bikes like this, you don’t need a license or insurance to operate so people who never got theirs or had it suspended or just don’t feel safe driving a car can get out and have some freedom
- If you opt for the cadence sensor here, you can activate the trike just by pedaling and you don’t have to push hard, just keep your feet moving… it has 12 magnets and is very responsive, it’s a great way to get some light exercise and movement without straining knees and hip joints (unless you turn it way down and want a challenge!)
- Weighing in at 128 lbs this thing is not light… at all! It’s also rather long and wide for a bicycle meaning it could be difficult to transport (consider a utility trailer for your car like this)
- While the motor rating of 500 to 1,000 watts and the 48 volt battery sound powerful on paper, they aren’t as zippy from standstill and will require some speed going into hills compared to a mid-drive or geared motor… though it should last longer with fewer moving parts and more air inside to disperse heat
- Steering this thing takes some space because the bar extends so far back, it’s difficult to make tight turns without really stretching your arms out from side to side but the upside is that you don’t end up on two wheels or tipped over as easily
- The display panel looks great but isn’t removable so it could take more rain, snow and sun damage over time if the trike is left out (or get scratched or vandalized), it does however swivel so you can reduce glare and it’s backlit if you hold the up arrow for a couple seconds
- Your key must be left in the battery and clicked to the right like an ignition in a car to operate the bike and this can be tricky because it’s mounted between the back of the seat and the front of the basket (as shown in the video), I also found that you have to take the key completely out of the pack in order to slide the battery off the bike or else it will collide with the basket
- The front brake is old technology and kind of weak in my opinion, it’s a mechanically activated cantilever vs. a hydraulic disco or something easier to actuate… thankfully you’ve also got the “pedal backward” coaster brake in the rear that works well
- The seat is mounted pretty low, making it stable and easy to get onto if you’re short but it requires a bit of arm strength to get back up and off
- Official Site: https://www.electrictrike.com/products/worksman-pav-electric-trike
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/FJXJjqgnuPum8aDB7
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