Truck Trike; A Heavy Duty Hauling Ebike

May 22, 2013

Every once in a while we see an ebike that breaks the mold.  Imagine instead of investing in a small pick up truck, you bought  an ebike large enough and powerful enough to carry a descent amount of cargo, and do so on pennies a charge.

Bill Stites is a former chiropractor turned talented designer and metal worker that is working on a new creation in one of the most creative ebike meccas in the world:  Portland Oregon. Portland is a combination of eco minded people, one of the best bike infrastructures in the country, and a hilly terrain that begs to go electric.  In fact Portland has been called “the ebike capitol of the country“. Portland is especially known for its electric cargo bikes.

Bill found a new nitch in taking the cargo bike to a new level with an electric cargo  bike large enough to make deliveries of large and heavy products. Bill thinks of it as one of the most efficient electric bikes imaginable.  The Truck Trike can carry up to 600 pounds and is designed with commercial enterprises in mind that want to reduce their eco foot print and at the same time save massive money on gas and parking cost.

Read how an ebike can save you money.

Truck Trike side

Rugged Frame Lovingly Built

Each frame is hand built by hand in Bill’s Portland Shop.   It is built  of  steel to be extra strong and rigid. This is the 3rd version of the frame, and each one has gotten a bit better, stiffer and stronger. If you wonder why this ebike is so expensive, you could start with an intricate steel frame that is made in America by expert craftsman.






Propulsion system

Hub motor hi-torque

The Truck Trike uses one of the highest quality (and expensive) hub motors available which is the v2 BMC (read our review).  You can choose for your Truck Trike to have a one or two wheel powered drive. With 2 BMC hub motors, one in each rear wheel, there is a $2000 up-charge. Then you get double the torque and double the power, and double the battery.

The Truck Trike can come with one 48v 20ah battery, or 2  batteries if you go with the 2 motor system giving you a total of 40amp hours.

For the single motor system, the price is $7,850 and for the dual motor system you are looking at $9850

Unfortunately the Truck Trike comes stock with heavy lead acid batteries, but for a price you can upgrade to a lithium ion All Cell pack which I would recommend for battery longevity and weight savings. On a trike that is so heavy to begin with, forget lugging this thing up stairs etc, so running lead acid isn’t as much of a deal killer as it would be on a standard electric bike.

I would expect with 2 BMC motors you could expect a top speed of over 20mph on level ground, and can could climb just about any hill. I would expect a 20-40 mile range with the dual battery/motor system, depending on what you are hauling and how hilly the terrain.

Creative Human Input

StitesHub area

The Truck trike uses the “StitesHub” was developed by Bill for a pedal trike he designed  back in 1996.  Since he was doing primarily recumbents at the time, he felt the need to tighten up the drive system by shortening the unusually long chain.  It worked really well at separating the drive and steer forces that need to culminate to the same wheel. .
Bill  decided to use the same concept on the Truck Trike, as he wanted to simplify the overall drive systems. By fully separating the human and electric drives [human to front wheel, electric to one or both rear wheels], he eliminated the need for inter-mixing transmissions, differentials, etc. – there’s not even a cross axle in the rear.  The Truck Trike uses standard hub motors for ebikes, and so each of the rear wheels is mounted in its own pair of dropouts.There are myriad advantages to this system, including a lower floor for a lower center-of-gravity, and thus more vehicular stability.  From an engineering perspective, there is great benefit in spreading the drive stresses among several sources, rather than having all the drive forces course through one chain, for example.  Since each wheel has it’s own power source, it is easier to achieve all-wheel drive, (with the 2 motor configuration)
Also, the modular design – where the front and rear frames bolt together – was facilitated by this separation of drive systems.

Motorcycle Brakes

Motorcycle Disc Brakes

The  Truck Trike isn’t  like anything that has come before in the bike world.  While it is a “hybrid” relative to its power sources [human + electric], it also can be described as a hybrid in its overall configuration.

The front end is easily recognizable as a bike.  But the rear end – with its 600+ lb. capacity – is more like a truck.  While Bill  tried to stay on the level of bicycle components for ease of availability and maintenance, it became clear that there were no bicycle brakes – even downhill hydraulics – that were up to the task of stopping upwards of 1/2 ton of mass [vehicle+driver+payload].

Thus, motorcycle-level hydraulic brakes  were specced for the rear section.  Such technology is well-proven, and readily available. Even though they are heavier than regular brakes, on the huge Truck Trike a few extra pounds equates to almost nothing.   The motorcycle brakes  provides full confidence in the ability to stop a fully loaded Truck Trike even when trucking down steep downgrades.

The photo below shows identical wheels with a bicycle rotor on the left, and the new motorcycle rotor on the right.  Bill  designed and machined a custom adapter to mount the monster rotor on a bike hub’s standard 6-bolt pattern.


 Who Would Buy One?

The Trike Truck costs $9850 in its awd configuration.

The Truck Trike would be awesome to own for anyone except for three  huge factors #1 the cost. #2 the space it takes to park it.  #3 275 pounds makes it one of the heaviest ebikes on the planet.

The Truck Trike was designed with the business owner in mind who can actually save money by owning this  trike.  Also, it is possible that someone could base a new start up business around this Trike, for example a bicycle messenger who can deliver refrigerators, or an electric-powered  pedal cab driver, or an electric lawn care business that carts their electric lawn mowers on a Truck Trike, or a high tech newspaper deliveryman who has a helper in the back throwing out the papers while he Trike Trucks down the road. The Trike Truck is Safe, heavy duty, and clean looking, and would attract a lot of  positive attention to any business.


Fact Sheet

Truck Trike


•Truck Trike is 48″ wide x 113″ long


•Rear Flat Bed = 48″ wide x 58″ long


•275 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight

•600 lbs. Payload capacity

•Highly Efficient: note that Payload Capacity is greater than Vehicle


•Formidable Vehicle: 275 + 600 + 150 [driver] = 1,025 lbs. = 1/2 ton


•Saves money by eliminating fossil fuel, and requires low maintenance.


•Simple design eliminates key parts – no transmission, no differential, no


cross-axle. Wheels are independently powered – human to the front, electric


•Intended for Business and Institutional Use, including warehouse and


•Designed for increasingly dense urban environments.


•Active Transportation = Health benefits, and healthcare savings.


•Human Power input is signficant at this scale.


•Street Legal, and still qualifies as an electric bicycle under Federal and


Oregon laws, thus no license, nor registration, nor insurance is required.


•$7,850. for Standard Version [single motor].


•$9,850. for Heavy Duty Version [dual motors].


•Designed and Built in Portland, Oregon.


•Intended to contribute to Climate Change solutions and Peak Oil adaptations in particular, and the Green Economy in general.


For more information visit the Truck Trike Website.


Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.

  • Kent

    ingCongrats on a well written, inspiring article. Bring to the publics attention that there are positive outcomes happening here in our own country is truly great. Articles such as these are rarely found in mass media and should be circulated as inspiration for the rest of us searching for environmentally sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.

    The article does a good job in articulating its logical placement in the marketplace including not only local deliveries but also large scale warehousing where it can reduce noise and environmental pollution.

    I hope as this becomes more successful and the demand for orders picks up, that this company resists outsourcing the manufacture to China. Lets keep our domestic successes here at home where they belong.


  • Bike sporter

    Can the top speed get reduced from 32 km/h to 25 km/h for some other countries? In Sweden the electric bikes’ top speed can’t exceed 25 km/h.

  • Bill Stites

    We are committed to US manufacturing. While we already felt strongly about this, there is a definite trend toward return of manufacturing to the US – I’ve seen it called, “Onshoring” or “Reshoring”.
    Top speeds can be governed, or restricted, to meet various jurisdictional requirements with the electronics.
    Thanks for your interest – the response to this new class of vehicle has been hugely encouraging.

  • HeavyHeart

    Interested as to why they bothered with the pedals at all? Surely you’d need to be the Hulk to make any impression even on the unloaded trike.

  • H Janson

    You are sooooo reinventing the wheel here. Can get stuff better and cheaper from China where these bikes are common for about $700~$800 for top of the line.

    • http://www.benswayne.com/ Ben Swayne

      Apparently you’ve never owned a Chinese manufactured ebike. Cheaper yes – but “better” or “top of the line” would be a resounding NO.

      • H Janson

        i live in china, apparently you have no idea what you are talking about.

        • http://www.benswayne.com/ Ben Swayne

          It doesn’t matter where you live, what matters is that you’ve used a chinese ebike for a significant amount of time (like your daily commute) and had to maintain it AND that you’ve ridden something built in USA/Canada/Germany or similar where quality matters and not just pure volume of production. Then you could fairly compare.

          In north america the batteries ALONE can cost the $800 you claim you can get a full “better” and “cheaper” version of in China. Never mind the other components. Heck even 2 chinese hub motor wheels will be $800 in north america!

          • H Janson

            These have been in production here for well over a decade, they are incredibly reliable and easy to repair when things do go wrong. Cheap as hell to start with as well. How about a 4-wheel mini-car that holds 5 people, has motorcycle steering, a hybrid system taking batteries and gas, top speed of 70km/h and an electric range of 150km? 4 wheel disc brakes, AC, stereo, road legal with no need for a licence, insurance, or even a plate? You can pick those up all day long over here for about $1200. And they’ll last you years and years without problems.

            The trikes are even cheaper and easier. Don’t even bother trying to argue on this. Just because hipsters think they know about things, doesn’t mean anything. Go ahead, make a market, I’ll come in with 3 container loads a week and put you out of business in a month.

          • http://www.benswayne.com/ Ben Swayne

            Dude you are just blowing steam. I’ve ridden my ebike 100km on electric, couldn’t do 150km on electric. And that requires $1500 of lithium batteries on a more standard weight bicycle with 1 person and a fair amount of human effort added to the mix. (Couldn’t do that with cheap lead acid batteries, let alone with the weight of 4-5 people + heavier batteries, plus obviously not equal human effort input).

            If they sell a 5 person mini car for ~$1200 it is not even physically possible to go 150km on electric. Just the physics of that weight and price point is not possible. At $1200 it will not have lithium batteries (like my $1500 batteries) it would have heavy lead acid batteries and will not have a range of 150km on electric. You write fiction my friend and it is obvious you have no experience with these things (to anyone who does have experience with ebikes and actually riding them/maintaining them).

            I’ll leave this thread alone now… Happy trolling to you! I hope you continue to get such great satisfaction from trolling the internet. I’ll be outside riding my ebike instead!

          • H Janson

            You really have no idea what you are talking about.

    • ElectricBIke

      Really? Just like that?

      • H Janson

        more or less, yep. you can upgrade the brakes, but other than that, more or less the exact same thing for a fraction of the cost.