Electric bike conversion kits 2023 – Give any bike a boost
Why pay for a brand new e-bike when electric bike conversion kits can easily give a boost to the bike you already have?
E-bikes have enabled people who need or want some pedal assistance to broaden the range and scope of their riding while making it easier than ever to choose sustainable and greener transport methods.
Whatever your reason for wanting pedal assistance — whether it makes cycling more accessible to you and your family, or you think you’ll have more fun with that boost. the e-bike market is vast and often requires a large upfront cost. So if you’re struggling to find an e-bike that suits you, and already have a bike at home, then you might consider an electric bike conversion kit instead.
Whichever option you go for, there’s no denying that the best electric bikes make it easier for riders to explore and experience different terrains and riding environments. Plus they offer a cheaper and greener form of transport to get you from A to B at a higher pace for less effort than a conventional bike, which is especially beneficial for those who are commuting or using them for work. The best electric bikes for commuting can make for a speedier and altogether less sweaty cycle to work, not to mention the money saved when compared to soaring fuel or rail fare prices.
But what if you’re not sure about which option to go for? If you’re weighing up an e-bike vs an e-bike conversion kit, consider whether you already have a bike that you love riding. Converting it means you can continue enjoying the same ride quality while introducing you to a new world of electrically-assisted fun.
To make all these decisions easier for you, we’ve outlined the key things to consider when fitting an electric conversion kit to your own bike, including the various motor and battery options available. We’ve tested as many as possible in real-world riding conditions, assessing how easy they are to fit, and what kind of electric assistance they provide.
So here are our findings, and our roundup of the best electric bike conversion kits you can buy right now.
Best electric bike conversion kits available now
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Reasons to avoid
A thorough purchase process ensures the product is easy to install, but it’s complicated so can take time
The first on our list is one we reviewed very recently and which really impressed us. The Cytronex electric bike conversion kit is extremely well thought-out, with great specs and top-notch engineering. You only need Allen keys to install it, it comes with an accompanying app to offer up basic diagnostics, and once it’s set up it’s a breeze to operate.
When purchasing, you’ll go through a thorough process, which can feel a bit over-complicated, but in doing so it means the actual conversion is a straightforward one. We tested out the Cytronex on a Brompton T-Line and found it delivered smooth and intuitive power. Plus, our hands-on time with it leads us to believe it’s strong and durable enough to use for commuting.
While it’s pricier than some of the options listed below, one thing to consider is that it comes from a UK-based company that offers comprehensive customer support. You can pay less for a Bafang kit on Amazon, but buying direct from a company that can support you if anything goes wrong, makes it a smarter choice in our view.
For an in-depth look, check out our Cytronex review.
Reasons to avoid
One of the easiest ways to convert a bike to electric is to swap out the front wheel for one with a front hub motor. This is the approach that Swytch takes, but there’s more to a good system than just a motor and battery. From our time testing and reviewing it, it’s clear to us that the team behind Swytch have considered the whole system in its design.
The battery mounts to the handlebars and we found that a really useful detail. It is easy to disconnect and take it away for storage, so it doesn’t get stolen when you are out and about, or to lighten the bike when, for example, it needs to be carried up a flight of stairs.
The 2022 Swytch system, which we tested, makes use of a neat handlebar-mounted LCD display instead of the buttons on the battery it had before. There’s also a cadence sensor that attaches to your bike. It’s a well-thought-out system that looks and feels great.
To read all about how it works, and find out why we gave it four stars, take a look at our Swytch review.
Reasons to avoid
If you’re on a tighter budget than the Cytronex or Swytch allow for, then as we mentioned above, getting a kit from Chinese manufacturer Bafang may be a better option. Plus, if you like the idea of an electric bike conversion kit but just don’t want to have to deal with the added complexity of a mid-drive setup, then the Bafang Front Hub kit makes things much easier.
Like the mid-drive system listed below, the Bafang Front Hub Motor kit covers everything required and gives tons of spec choices. We started by choosing our wheel size and display preference, then added the battery size and shape we wanted.
We did find it more of a time investment, given the installation process was more complex than the Cytronex, Swytch and Rubbee, but this did allow us to achieve a powerful, high-quality set-up.
To find out more about how we got on, read our Bafang Front Hub Motor review.
Reasons to avoid
There are a number of simple install options on the list but the Rubbee X takes it a step further. We were really impressed with how easy it was to attach the mount to the bike’s seat post and then click the unit into the mount. There’s no need to change the wheel like the Swytch system. Here the motor sits on top of the rear tyre and a roller pushes it around from above. There’s also a wireless cadence sensor, as this is a cadence-based system that adjusts based on pedalling cadence, rather than torque.
There is a slick-looking 250-watt motor with a single battery in the base kit. If the 10-mile range of the base unit feels a little constricting, another battery can be added to double the range. Rubbee also has a handy phone app that can be used to change assistance modes.
We’ve spent some time testing it out, so why not check out our Rubbee X e-bike conversion kit review for more details.
Reasons to avoid
Bafang is one of the largest and most well-known electric bike motor companies in the world. It’s been around since 2003, and in 2014 Bafang established a US arm to better support the US market. There are many well-known electric bike companies sourcing its components, so if you want to get in the game and source your own electric bike components, you won’t go far wrong with Bafang.
This particular option covers everything you need for a mid-drive motor conversion kit. As long as the bike you are starting with has a bottom bracket sized between 68 and 73mm, this kit will work. From there you can choose the front chainring size, the battery size, and what display works for you.
If you’re not sure whether or not a mid-drive motor conversion is what you need (or what other drive options there are), head down to our FAQs at the bottom of this article for an explanation of all the possibilities you can choose from.
Reasons to avoid
The most natural-feeling electric bike conversion kits are going to be those with a mid-mounted motor. If that works for you and you also like the idea of doing some pedalling, then the very best is a mid-mounted motor paired with a torque sensor.
Instead of the system knowing you are pedalling and adding power, such as the Rubbee X cadence-based system above, a torque-based system adds a percentage of power. The Max torque available on this TongSheng system is 80Nm but depending on your chosen assist level, that 80Nm will add between 36 and 300 per cent to your pedalling power.
To keep it simple, think about it as an amplifier. If you pedal harder you go faster, just like a normal bike, but now your muscles have extra support, so you can go further with less effort.
Reasons to avoid
If you like the idea of a mid-drive system and you want it to have torque-sensing pedal assist then you’ve got a few choices. The challenge with a system like that is complexity. For some people, it’s no big deal to take apart a bottom bracket, but for others, it’s a slightly more intimidating prospect.
The Pendix system does the same thing as other kits but there is a dealer network that handles sales, support, and installation. This comes with an extra cost attached, but the benefit is that you can feel comfortable that the system is correctly installed and ready to ride.
Types of e-bike conversion kits
Friction drive conversion
A friction drive e-bike conversion means there is a roller that pushes against the wheels tyre. So when the roller turns, the wheel turns. It’s not the most efficient strategy, but it’s simple and it works. There is very little involved with regard to making it work but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t work as well as other systems out there. The Rubbee X is an example of a friction drive conversion kit system.
The best electric bikes tend to be mid-drive because this delivers the most natural ride feel, and the same is true of conversion kits. The weight sits low in the frame and the power gets applied to the crank for a more natural power delivery sensation. The only downside is pricing and packaging, plus it can be complex to set up yourself. Different standards make it challenging to figure out exactly what you need, as well. The Bafang Mid Drive Motor Kit is an example of this.
Electric bike wheel conversion
Swapping either a front or rear wheel for one with a hub-mounted motor is a good balance. The conversion process is very simple and, depending on how the battery mounts, the weight distribution can be quite good. Powering the wheel does change the way the power delivery feels, and making the front wheel heavy can affect the handling of the bike. If mid-drive seems overwhelming, this is an excellent option. Cytronex and Swytch are examples of this.
How to choose the best electric bike conversion kit for you
If you’re interested in fitting an electric bike conversion kit to one of your own bikes, you should consider your own personal requirements first and do plenty of research. You’re in the right place, as this guide will help you with a lot of that.
Before anything, familiarise yourself with the laws regarding e-bikes in your region. Then you may want to choose a conversion kit based on your range and journey needs. If you live in a hilly city, for example, you may want something with a little more top-end power. Lastly, check whether or not the system is compatible with the bike you plan to fit it onto. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, think about getting a quote for installation from a reputable bike shop.
Do all electric bike conversion kits come with a battery?
The short answer is ‘not always’. You need a battery, of course, so when browsing online, make sure the kit you select has one included. Since not all kits include a battery, you might find yourself browsing through options and landing on something at an unbelievable price. If that’s the case, double check it’s got the battery included. If not, then it is possible to source the battery yourself, but be sure about what you are getting.
How fast do electric bikes go?
This is hard to answer specifically as electric bikes are, on the whole, designed to assist pedalling rather than replace it, and it is the same with electric bike conversion kits. The measurement of the power of the motors is in wattage and, in effect, the higher the wattage of the motor, the faster speeds it will be capable of achieving.
However, the speed is often limited as a result of country-specific regulations. In the UK, the assistance an e-bike can legally provide is up to 25kmph (15.5mph) and, after that point, the bike can go faster but without any assistance from the motor. Anything faster would not meet the UK’s electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPC) criteria, would be classed as a moped or motorcycle, and need to be licensed and taxed appropriately. The laws are different depending on the country, with the United States, for example, allowing more powerful motors – although individual states have their own legal frameworks.
Which bike is best for electric conversion?
You should consider the condition and componentry of your old bike. With an electric motor dramatically increasing the torque, using a low-quality or worn drivetrain will result in poor performance, with shifting being affected and the chain skipping or even snapping. Another important consideration is the brakes, adding the extra weight of an electric bike conversion kit and increasing potential speeds will put more stress on the brakes as they try to curtail momentum. We recommend choosing to convert a bike that has disc brakes as they will provide far better braking performance.
I haven’t heard of a lot of these brands, are they safe to use?
In the world of electric bikes, there are a lot of brands you may not have ever heard of. There’s been a boom going on for a while, so new brands are popping up all the time. Not only that but Europe, and especially the US, are playing catch up to the trend of electric bikes. You will probably stumble across a lot of unfamiliar brand names.
Consumers have a tendency to look away when they encounter a new brand. It’s not a bad strategy most of the time but in the electric bike world, including conversion kits, you’ve got to be more open than that. If you aren’t open to names you’ve never heard of you will find the options limited. A lot of the names you may come across are unfamiliar to you but have a solid history behind them.
That doesn’t mean you should go forward blindly. Do your research and be careful with your money, like always. The only thing that might be different is the need for being open to new companies. At the very least be willing to look a little deeper, read reviews, and do some research. The brand you’ve never heard of might actually be a well-established brand from a different part of the world.
Is converting my bike to an electric bike worth it?
There are plenty of reasons to install an electric bike conversion kit to your current bike, but the question of whether it’s worth doing is going to depend on your circumstances.
For many kits, once the installation has been completed, it will be an arduous task to remove it again, so one of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself is whether or not you want to retain the ability to use the bike as a ‘normal’ bike. If you expect to be flitting between the two (powered and non-powered) then a kit that can simply be folded out of the way – like the Rubbee X – might be perfect, but you might instead prefer to simply buy a second bike for the convenience.
The second question is to assess the state of your current bike. If you don’t yet have one, then the cost of buying a bike, buying an electric bike conversion kit and then fitting it, is probably not going to be worth the time, effort, or money involved. However, if you have a bike that is in reasonable repair, then the value for money – and effort – will be greater.
Beyond the financial and practical element, the question of ‘is it worth it’ will also depend on the amount of use you get out of it. E-bikes can be incredibly motivating and enjoyable and if converting your standard bike to electric helps you to ditch the car on a regular basis, then the answer becomes clear.
If you want a monetary answer to this question, then there are ways to work out whether the investment is worth it. Take a moment to think about your current car usage and work out the cost per day/mile, including fuel, parking and running costs. Try to work out how many journeys, days or miles you will use the bike for after it is converted. Once you know this, you should be able to work out the reduction in car running costs per mile/day and, with that, you should be able to work out how many miles/days it will take for the electric bike conversion kit to pay for itself.
Should I just buy an electric bike instead?
Remember to consider all your options. You have a bike in the shed you haven’t touched for many years and it seems like a perfect candidate for conversion to an electric bike. It might be, but it’s also just as possible that it’s a better candidate for a sale. Sometimes it’s better to take the money from that sale and put it towards an electric bike someone else built.
As with anything, consideration for the end-use during design and build can have advantages. A quality electric bike conversion kit might end up being very close to the price of a complete electric bike. If a company starts with a clean slate and designs an electric bike, it’s easier to keep costs low and integration high. Really consider why you are thinking about converting your bike and whether it makes sense compared to what’s on the market. In some cases, it will but in others, it won’t.
Are electric bike conversion kits legal?
The kits themselves are entirely legal, and fitting them to your bike is equally so. However, the question of legality arises in relation to where you then plan to use your newly powered electric bike. The answer will vary hugely, depending on where in the world you’re based, and which kit you choose.
For example, in the US, there are different classes of e-bikes that vary by their power, speed limitations and whether or not they have a throttle, and each class is subject to different rules. Things are a little more simple elsewhere, with the UK stating that anything with a speed limiter of over 25km/h is classified as a moped, while anything up to 25km/h (15.5mph) is classed as a bicycle.
Before you complete any purchase, make sure you have an understanding of the local laws that govern electric bikes, which is where our guide to e-bike classes comes in handy.
How do you install an e-bike conversion kit?
Sadly, there is no single and simple answer to this question. Each electric bike conversion kit works in a different way and therefore fits onto your bike in a different way too.
The most simple options are the friction-drive kits, such as the Rubbee X, which place a roller onto your rear tyre. In the example of the Rubbee, you simply need to mount the device onto your seat post, with the roller placed against the tyre. However, more complex systems require the removal of drivetrain components and wheels, and the installation of wiring. These are far from impossible, but they may require some tools and a bit of patience.
How much does an electric bike conversion kit cost?
will depend very much on the conversion kit in question. Some are available for as little as £250 (350), while the more high-spec and integrated kits can fetch as much as £750 (900).
Will a bike shop fit my electric bike conversion kit?
It’s understandable that you might not want to take on the arduous task of fitting your electric bike conversion kit yourself. You might not have the tools, the know-how, the confidence, or simply the time to invest. Luckily, almost all bike shops will be happy to fit it for you.
Some systems, such as the Pendix kit listed above, are only sold via physical stores and the fitting is sold as part of the overall package. However, with kits bought online such as the Bafang kit, the shop will charge you for the time it takes, which will add to the cost of the overall conversion. In our opinion, knowing that it’s been done correctly and safely is worth spending extra.
Some bike shops or workshops also may refuse to install a conversion kit to a bike they consider unfit for purpose or potentially unsafe. If you plan to have your local shop fit a kit it may be worth consulting with them on the job first to make sure they are happy to do it for you.
Individuals carrying out the instructions in this guide do so at their own risk and must exercise their independent judgement. There is a risk to safety if the operation described in the instructions is not carried out with the appropriate equipment, skill and diligence and therefore you may wish to consult a bike mechanic. Future Publishing Limited provides the information for this project in good faith and makes no representations as to its completeness or accuracy. To the fullest extent permitted by law, neither Future Publishing Limited, its suppliers or any of their employees, agents or subcontractors shall have any liability in connection with the use of this information, provided that nothing shall exclude or limit the liability of any party for personal injury or death caused by negligence or for anything else which cannot be excluded or limited by law.
AKO Leaning Electric Trike: Brilliance Or Boondoggle?
Riders say it’s “like a spaceship on wheels.” Five designers from Lithuania have designed this electric leaning trike. If you were in the market for some fun, cheap transportation but didn’t want a motorcycle, would you buy one? That’s what AKO, the startup ready to begin production of the leaning trike, wants to know. They …
Riders say it’s “like a spaceship on wheels.” Five designers from Lithuania have designed this electric leaning trike. If you were in the market for some fun, cheap transportation but didn’t want a motorcycle, would you buy one? That’s what AKO, the startup ready to begin production of the leaning trike, wants to know. They think you will and they’re banking on it. The leaning aspect is a patent-pending mechanism. It steers the trike under normal driving without any lean. But at higher speeds the trike adjusts to leaning at up to 30-degrees. So what do you think? Is the AKO leaning electric trike a bit of brilliance or a boondoggle?
“It’s like a spaceship on wheels.”
“The trike is based on pure mechanics and allows the vehicle to lean by simply tilting the steering shaft,” says AKO’s Jurgis Lecas. “In cases of lower speeds you can simply rotate the steering wheel just like in any regular car and the vehicle will steer normally. It’s pretty damn unique, I mean only seven people have ever driven such a vehicle and one of them is me. It’s like a spaceship on wheels.”
The development of the AKO leaning trike is ongoing and a final prototype has yet to be built. No final price has been determined but estimates are in the 21,000-26,000 range. But with Harley LiveWires going for 30,000, that’s a lot cheaper and gives more comfort, protection, and fun.
The trike has an estimated top speed of 149 mph
With a 140 kW motor the trike has an estimated top speed of 149 mph. AKO thinks that there may be governors in some countries limiting the top speed. Regardless, AKO thinks the trike can become a “true market disruptor.” And that’s where we get back to our original question, “If you were in the market for some fun, cheap transportation but didn’t want a motorcycle, would you buy one?”
Why does AKO think it is? “A vehicle that introduces a new type of maneuverability as it is capable of leaning into curves as well as simply steering at lower speeds. Enabling the rider to experience something breathtaking extremely fun while at the same time providing essential features for a daily urban ride.”
The “capsule” is large enough for the driver and a rider behind him or her
But that thing looks cramped. Is it? According to AKO the “capsule” is large enough for the driver and a rider behind him or her. There would still be room for cargo. It also gives protection from inclement weather and adds protection in a roll-over crash. Visibility is excellent, and would you believe the trike comes with airbags? It has both front and side airbags and four-point seat belts.
At under 1,000 lbs and an estimated 186-mile range the only stat missing we want to see is how fast will the electric leaning trike go? Lecas says AKO is looking for a vehicle that combines both a sporty feel and luxury. Plus, for some the uniqueness and funkiness of the whole concept is motivation enough to consider stepping up.
We would at least like to try the trike on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. You know, to get a feel for how comfortable we feel being completely surrounded by Mercedes sedans and semi-trucks.
Top 10 Motorcycles That Are Built For Passengers
Cruising by yourself is fun, but going on an adventure with a buddy is even better. Motorcycles have two seats for a reason, so why not take someone along with you on your next great two-wheeled adventure? Riding a motorcycle with someone else can be an intimate thing. There isn’t a lot of space, and you have to work together to maintain balance. Some motorcycles will have you happily inviting someone along. While others will have you wishing you had left your passenger at home. These 10 motorcycles will make your passenger’s experience an enjoyable one.
Updated March 2023: Manufacturers continue to update and release new models that are perfect for riding two up! And in trying to provide the latest information for our readers, this list will periodically be updated with all the best possible options for riding with a passenger.
Honda Gold Wing
Riding as a passenger on the Honda Gold Wing is like sitting in a recliner. It is so comfortable that you could easily find yourself falling asleep for a little nap while out on a long ride. The seat has just the right amount of padding, it is also heated. The backrest is curved for a held-in-place hugged feeling. The bike has a massive amount of storage, making it perfect for traveling. Skip the older generations of the Honda Gold Wing and opt for a newer model. They come with significantly more power and an impressive sound system.
BMW R 1250 RT
The BMW brand has become one of the most trusted for making bikes with the latest technology and creature comforts. Those who have had the pleasure of experiencing the BMW R 1250 RT know that it performs well in various situations. It smoothly rolls along at slow speeds. It offers just as impressive of a performance at highway speeds. Your passenger will appreciate this as they are at your mercy for how smooth or bumpy the ride is. The seat has really nice padding, providing plenty of support for long riding hours. There are the typical, heated seats and ride modes. BMW also considered airflow and debris when it sculpted the bodywork, to make sure the ride is hassle-free. The final cherry on the cake is the large amount of accessories to customize the bike to fit you and your passenger’s needs.
If you and your co-pilot are in the mood for something a little sportier, then Yamaha has just the bike for you. The FJR1300ES is tailor-made for carving up the road as a team. It looks like a sport bike and rides just like one too. The only difference is that Yamaha put a lot of thought into making the pillion rider experience just as fun. The seat is comfortable, the suspension is adjustable, tuned just right from the get go, and the ride is smooth due to Yamaha’s proprietary ride-by-wire technology.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited
There may not be anything cooler than going cross-country on a Harley. And the bar and shield company certainly has plenty of options for you to choose from, but if you’re bringing along your significant other, nothing but the best will do. The Road Glide Limited is about as comfortable as it gets.
There’s plenty of storage for the two of you and the pillion seat has creature comforts to spare. There are floorboards, armrests and a plush backrest. Your passenger can lean in or sit back and enjoy the view. Of course, you pay the price for all that comfort. Harleys are almost never cheap, and this one is no different, starting at nearly 30,000.
Perhaps the biggest competitor the Yamaha FJR1300ES has is Kawasaki’s Concours14 which is the perfect sport tourer for two. The star here is the highly adjustable suspension, giving both the rider and their passengers a plush ride, while carving up all the curvy roads. There’s also the electronically adjustable windshield, roomy sadlebags for both helmets, if need be, and a smooth as butter shaft drive to keep the ride free of noise and vibrations. It has ABS, to keep your passenger safe and the pricing is also fairly considerate, with the Concours14 starting at 16,000.
The Suzuki V-Strom adventure bike is perfect for exploring the great unknown. Even better, it has a backseat comfortable enough to bring someone along. The bike comes in three sizes, 650cc, 800cc and 1050cc. The smaller engine is incredibly lightweight and affordable. In comparison, the 1050cc gives you noticeably more torque without a ton of extra weight.
Your passenger will love the bike because it has a large cushioned seat with plenty of support. There is also a lot of room for their legs to stretch out to reach the pegs. You will appreciate the extra space between you and the passenger, which gives you more flexibility and movement. The 800DE model is also something to be excited about, as it’s the newest addition to the lineup, with a brand-new engine.
Triumph Tiger 900 GT
If you and your trip partner are in it for the long haul, perhaps traveling from one country to another via highways and dirt roads, there may not be a better option than the Triumph Tiger 900 GT. For an adventure bike, the Tiger offers your passenger a very comfortable seat. The large seat and well-placed foot pegs give your passenger decent ergonomics.
The passenger was also thought of when designing the storage boxes that get placed at the back of the bike. The bike could be fully loaded, and the passenger will still feel comfortable. As the one controlling the bike, you will appreciate the engineering that went into balancing the bike. Even in loose or uneven terrain, this bike delivers a comfortable ride.
Harley-Davidson Tri Glide
Some may argue that this isn’t a true motorcycle. However, the two wheels at the back do not take away from the fact that this trike is still a bike. This is the perfect motorcycle for when your passenger isn’t really a rider. There is no balancing, so they can just sit back and relax as you cruise down the road.
The bike is perfect for traveling because there is plenty of storage space for two people. If that wasn’t enough, the bike has a complete infotainment system that could rival a car. Your passenger can choose their own music through their helmet or share music with you through the speaker system.
Indian has Harley squarely in their sights with the Roadmaster. They, too, know how to build motorcycles that can comfortably tour around the country. And though Harley may be the king of cool, Indian is approaching the marketing from a slightly different angle. Yes they have some pedigree, though not as storied as that of Harley-Davidson, but they’ve been building bikes for a long time. And ever since Polaris became the primary owner of Indian, the motorcycles slowly started to become more modern and reliable.
If Harley is leaning into their heritage, Indian is certainly acknowledging it, but do not appear to be mired in nostalgia. The fit and finish of the Roadmaster is thoroughly modern and that includes passenger considerations. The storage is a premium 36 gallons. There are independent heat controls for both the rider and passenger. And the adjustable vents in the hard lower fairings allow for greater control of airflow. There’s also the nifty rear cylinder automatic deactivation feature, which allows for a smoother ride at slower speeds.
BMW F 750 GS
If you looked at the Triumph Tiger 900 GT and thought perhaps it’s a little too big for you and your riding partner, then consider an easy-to-control bike like the F 750 GS. It’s more compact and lighter in weight than many of the touring bikes on this list. It also has a less aggressive body position than the sport tourers. The slightly higher passenger seat will give your partner a clear view of the road. This eliminates the slight side lean that can throw a beginner off balance.
Like any self-respecting GS, the F 750 will gladly tackle any terrain you and your partner decide to throw at it. Last, but not least, and in true BMW fashion, you have a great deal of accessories to pick and choose from for your long trip across the world.
Here Are The Best Three-Wheeled Motorcycles On The Market
As three-wheeler motorcycles rise in popularity, we are seeing some incredible designs from Harley-Davidson and Can-Am hitting the streets.
Whenever you think of a motorcycle, what naturally comes to mind is a two-wheeled machine. That’s expected because the very definition of a motorcycle is a motorized bicycle. However, over the years, there are a bunch of people who’ve thought differently.
Three-wheeled motorcycles are now becoming a mainstream topic. Previously left to those who wanted to bolt on an extra wheel or fit a sidecar, mainstream manufacturers such as Yamaha and Harley-Davidson are now producing three-wheeled motorcycles aimed at this emerging niche market.
Most lovers of three-wheeled motorcycles prefer these rides because they offer greater straight-line stability at low speeds and, hence, less risk of falling. However, that added security comes at the cost of reduced maneuverability in corners, awkward performance on uneven or slopping terrain, as well as a hefty price tag.
Updated May 2023: Not so long ago, three-wheelers had something of a bad reputation. But, in recent times, be it for mobility reasons, or just for the sake of being different, three-wheelers have become a lot more popular and have ditched the negative stereotype. We have updated this list to include more information about the very best new three-wheelers on the market.
Harley-Davidson’s tango with the trikes started more than nine decades ago. Since 1930, the company has put itself at the forefront of motorcycle trikes, starting when it made its first Servi-Car. Today, the company still offers the “Tri Glide”, which is basically a three-wheeled version of its full-dress tourer, the Electra Glide.
The Harley-Davidson Freewheeler sits as the cheaper option of these two. Introduced in 2017, this three-wheeled motorcycle offers the raw, Harley V-Twin cruiser experience, packed with the latest 114ci “Milwaukee Eight” engine. In the latest Harley-Davidson Freewheeler trike, the engine generates 90 horsepower at 4,750 rpm and 122 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm. The 2023 Harley-Davidson also features an impressive amount of advanced safety systems for better security, including an anti-lock brake system, electronic linked braking, traction control, cornering enhanced anti-lock brake system, cornering enhanced traction control system, and drag-torque slip control system.
Piaggio MP3 500
Pontedera-based motor vehicle manufacturer Piaggio is widely known for its incredible machines, and the Piaggio MP3 500 is one of its best efforts yet. The three-wheeled motorcycle does incredibly well in keeping up with today’s minimalist trend. The Piaggio is affordable and comes packed with awesome safety features such as ABS, traction control, and an impressive ergonomic design. The brand’s name hints towards high quality, reliability, and efficiency.
The bike is not just safe and comfortable. It’s also packed with electronic aids that include a multimedia platform. Its design, plus these fancy features, help it garner a lot of attention on the road.
BRP Can-Am Spyder RT Limited
The BRP Can-Am Spyder RT Limited looks like a three-wheeled motorcycle ready to handle anything. It’s powerful, impressive, and features an amazing design that makes riding three-wheeled motorcycles such a pleasant experience. Stand-out features include ABS, traction control, and a smooth six-speed semi-automatic transmission.
The BRP Can-Am Spyder boasts a generous cargo capacity plus wind protection that’s designed to make your riding experience enjoyable. There’s also an adjustable rear air suspension, a four-speaker sound system, and a colorful LCD equipped with smartphone integration.
The Yamaha Niken is basically a leaning, three-wheeled version of the popular Yamaha Tracer 900. Introduced in 2018, the Yamaha Niken is one of Yamaha’s most radical creations.
Instead of one conventional 17-inch front wheel fixed to a pair of telescopic forks, two 15-inch wheels in parallel get held by separate suspension arms. This provides substantially more grip while cleverly allowing the Niken to lean without falling over. In addition to its multi-wheel chassis, the Yamaha Niken has an efficient 847cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline-three-cylinder engine with 115 HP, so you can rest assured there’s plenty of power in reserve. Its top speed is 135 mph. With regard to its efficiency, the Yamaha Niken returns an average fuel economy of 42.3 mpg.
Gilera Fuoco 500
Looking at the Gilera Fuoco 500, you can’t imagine that this three-wheeled motorcycle is capable of hitting a 90-mph top speed. Not many riders will have the confidence to do such kinds of speeds on this. But it does have an impressive 493cc liquid-cooled, SOHC, 4v four-stroke single-cylinder engine providing a massive amount of grunt for a scooter (40 HP at 7,250 rpm and 34.3 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 rpm).
The sure thing about the Gilera Fuoco 500 is that it’s a sporty and trendy three-wheeler. Better yet, the base model offers great value for the money.
Yamaha Tricity 125
The Yamaha Tricity 125 is the lightweight, sleekly designed companion you’ve been looking for. This bike is easy to use and quite fun in the urban environment. It also dons scooter-like design cues that might be the kind of vibe some three-wheeled motorcycle enthusiasts are looking for.
The Tricity 125 packs a decent 125cc engine that generates up to 12 horsepower. It can carry two people around town. It’s also packed with gizmos that nicely balance both safety and fun. The Tricity also offers a unique motorcycle experience, especially for riders who’ve just jumped from driving cars. Highlights include an intelligent Start-and-Stop system, LCD instruments with smartphone connectivity, a pliant suspension effective at soaking up bumps, and robust brakes that enhance confidence while riding.
The Kymco CV3 looks plush and soft, with a small but decent 500cc parallel engine powering the beauty. That engine is enough for daily commutes to and from work and quick rides around town.
Apart from looking all chic and friendly, the Kymco CV3 was also designed with affordability in mind. It also comes with an impressive list of features, such as a swingarm at the rear, a telescopic front suspension, and all LED lighting.
Ural Baikal Limited Edition
The Ural Baikal Limited Edition is a hardcore machine. This three-wheeled motorcycle is the work of the Russian company, Ural. Needing no introduction, Ural is world-renowned for building some of the world’s most interesting motorcycles. Of course, that prestigious position comes at a hefty price. The Ural Baikal Limited Edition is one of their most expensive creations. But then, you’ll be getting something that looks ready for World War III and the real-life reenactment of The Walking Dead.
Well, the Qooder QV3 looks a bit odd. Looking at it from one end, you get the picture of a special scooter that seniors can use to go shopping. But excelling in the looks department is not what the Qooder QV3 got produced for. The manufacturer built this three-wheeled motorcycle to be very light and easy to handle by equipping the QV3 with a steel tube frame with a double electronic hydraulic tilting system up front and dual hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear. The engine is a 346cc with 28.9 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 23.5 lb-ft at 5,500 rpm.
Most critics agree that the Can-Am Ryker looks enticingly dangerous. Its design gives the impression that a scooter and a menacing sports car had a baby. The only thing that looks odd is the rear wheel that receives all the power. The Ryker packs powerful 600cc and 900cc engines (depending on your choice of trim). All that performance comes at a rather reasonable price, all things considered.
Yamaha Niken GT
After making its debut a few years back, nobody really knew what it was good for. It was too heavy to be a sports bike and too expensive to be a simple commuter. The Niken was always meant to be a GT bike. With exceptional front-end grip, that potent CP3 engine, and comfortable ergonomics, the Niken makes for an unusually good touring bike.
Peugeot Metropolis Allure
An inimitable signature, the Peugeot Metropolis Allure has Peugeot Design’s DNA imprinted all over it. From its almond-shaped lights to its floating grille, and its immaculately crafted rear, the Metropolis is a stunning engineering work.
Developed in France, the Metropolis Allure’s power comes from an efficient engine with an output of 35.5 horses and 28 lb-ft of torque for a smooth performance. For comfort, Peugeot fitted the Metropolis with a pilot backrest and passenger footrest. Other features on the motorcycle include an adjustable windshield, an onboard computer with an LCD screen, ample storage space, and a hands-free key start, among others. The motorcycle is available in various colors that include satin blue, smoky quartz satin, midnight blue, and mat black.
Polaris Slingshot Signature LE
While most Slingshot enthusiasts often beg to differ and would rather want to treat their priced asset as a proper car, in the real sense of it, the Slingshot is not a car. It’s a three-wheeled motorcycle that also doesn’t meet any automotive safety standards, and neither does it have airbags. That said, at a relatively hefty starting price of 35,799, the Slingshot Signature LE is among the most amazing three-wheeled motorcycle on the market right now.
Using a multiport injected fuel system, the Slingshot Signature LE is, however, powered by a ProStar 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a peak output of 178 horsepower. This earns the three-wheeler a top speed of 125 mph. The Polaris Slingshot Signature LE also has amazing features like the Stage 3 Rockford Fosgate audio, Apple CarPlay, GPS Navigation and more. Furthermore, the Slingshot LE features a limited-edition Tri-Tone paint scheme as well as new Vented Sport Hood and wheel designs.