Look at my progression of bicycles! The first bike I owned was a 1956 Raleigh 3-Speed. It was purchased at Macy's (my Uncle Harry worked there and got us a discount). We took it home on the subway. In 1987 I got a Mountain Bike. That was replaced in 1990 by a Long-Wheelbase Recumbent, then a 1996 Folding Bike Friday. By 2014 it became difficult to lift my leg high, so I switched to a Shwinn Girl's Bike.
In 2014, after several falls due to balance issues from Parkinson's disease, I had to go to 3-wheels, a Catrike Recumbent Tricycle. Now, to help me keep up with my bicycling buddies, I've gone to an Electric Assist Motor on my Catrike!
Electric Bike Outfitters (EBO) Burly kit. As shown above, the Controls and Display Units are on my right handlebar, the Rechargeable Battery hangs from the left rear strut, and the Electric Motor is in the rear wheel hub.
I normally utilize only a small fraction of rated or peak power. Riding 10 to 15 MPH in the relatively flat Florida area where we live requires only about 120 watts (1/6 HP). My efforts on the pedals provide about half the energy required, and the other half is provided by the Electric Assist.
Using Pedal Assist System (PAS) Level 1, I can keep up with my bike buddies. Thus, I can ride for 70 to 80 miles and still have 20% charge to spare!
Shown below is a close-up of the Electric Assist Display and Controls.
The LED Display shows Pedal Assist System Level (from 0 to 5), Battery charge level (in 20% increments), Ambient Temperature, battery voltage, and, (while Electric Assist is operating) Speed. Distance is displayed, but increments only while Electric Assist is operating. Therefore, on my left handlebar, I have a regular speedometer that shows actual speed and distance.
The three Control buttons (UP, CENTER, DOWN) are used, singly and in various combinations, to Turn Electric Assist ON or OFF, Increment or Decrement PAS Level, Turn Backlight On or Off, Change display options, etc.
The PAS is turned on when I pedal above a certain cadence. The wattage is supposed to be based on how fast you turn the pedals, but I've found that, at normal Pedal Cadence, it maxes out at a wattage based on PAS Level. PAS Level 1 supplies about 50-60 watts, Level 2 about 100-110 watts, Level 3 about 200 watts, Level 4 about 300 watts, and Level 5 a terrifying 600 watts!
If either Brake Lever is pressed, the Electric Motor is cut off, a necessary safety feature. When the Brake Levers are released, the Electric Assist resumes instantly.
A Throttle is mounted just below my Gear Shift. When the Electric Assist is ON, I can easily push the Throttle with my wrist and "juice" the Motor to get up to 600 watts, providing a quick start after stopping at an intersection or for handling an uphill such as the ramp into our parking garage.
I use Level 0 (zero assistance) when on long level or downhill stretches. I can keep up with my slower (10 MPH) friends with zero electric assistance, with occasional use of the throttle on short uphills. When riding with my speedier (15 MPH) friends, I tend to use Level 1. Thus, I still get lots of exercise, basically supplying all the pedal energy at lower speeds and about half at higher speeds.
SPECIAL THANKS to my friend Regina Losinger for allowing me to use her tricycle a couple years ago, and for letting me use her electric assist tricycle earlier this year. Those events gave me the motivation and courage to switch to a trike in the first place, and add electric assist in the second. Regina is from the Binghamton, NY area and I know her from the Southern Tier Bike Club I belonged to from 1987 until my wife and I moved to The Villages, FL, in 2003. Regina, I, and some other members of the NY bike club have met yearly at Cape Cod, MA for decades. Our mutual friend John Ruth hosts us at an historic old home in the Chatham area of Cape Cod.