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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.


Truck Trike

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.


  1. 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.


  2. 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.

    • Stites responded, not sure you seen it but yes the motors are programmable.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    • Not sure about your limitations but I could roll 4,000 pounds of palletized goods on flat even surface, I could more than surely pedal a quarter that weight around with the right mechanical advantage ad gearing up a 6% grade though I would need to be full stomached and have plenty of fluid to drink to get it up the incline even or not and I live in a hilly area in New England. But since it comes with one or optional second motor (hub standard, mid chain driven optional as well), those help out going up hill and to take a break on flat or near even surfaces for a breather. Pedaling alone that very 2 tons on a flat even surface is more easier due to the mechanical advantage of those gears and wheels along with the fact it also has brakes which hand pallet jacks do not have (though lowering the pallet to use it as brakes work just as well) the same braking effect, then again its a flat even surface.

      If pedaling a half ton+ is too much for you then you either have physical mobility issues or just a lazy worker with no muscle power or desire to do manual work. Then I suggest you stick to relying on the electric or ic engine something else like this comes with to get that load of you plus cargo and vehicle moving not to mention the extra money you need to spend on such machines just to use it on the road and to get from point a to infinity to keep it running.

  5. 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.

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

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

        • 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!

          • 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.

          • 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!

          • You really have no idea what you are talking about.

    • Really? Just like that?

      • 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.

    • You are the one missing the point of Ben Swayne, while they do make trikes in similar configuration they are rear axle not front hub geared like the stites and while those made in ” ” are quality, they are not of equal (exactly the same) quality when compared side by side. Then there is the maintenance factor so long as they are well maintained the original parts could last as long as if not longer than the frame. While those made in China are human powered only, the USA made TT is human-electric hybrid of which I yet to see such from china without ICE or battery power only. Quality has improved overseas but the life use is questionable still and so is the maintenance of said bikes main components. Batteries still have their issues from time to time which is always a given.

      Far as I car the rusty original cargo delta style trikes I seen of Chinese make are likely not original in drive components, from cranks/gears to pedals which have likely been replaced at least once since being made. From my personal experience owning a few Made in China bikes they started coming undone at welds after just a yearly season or two of use with proper care and not misusing it other than its main intent as the paint also peels off after a year despite parked indoors. Only had one china made bike crack apart with the welds holding up despite also having hairline cracks upon further inspection. I a not against buying and using something made in China from scrap metal processed into its final configuration but the Quality of that compared to other countries depends on the workers who made the steel to those who assembled what you see as its not made by one or a few people. I trust non China Made more and American made the most.

      One other factor is the climate and weather conditions in the region said bike, trike or quad is being used.

  6. Eric Hicks, you made a few spelling and grammar mistakes but overal good reporting or writing. I myself am not perfect, no one is totally perfect, ot even smart programming which still misses words or replaces a word ith something not the same or what you were going for.

    First of all in paragraph 3 it’s spelled niche not nitch, that spelling does not exist.

    In lieu of the facts or specs:

    It since 2 or 3 years ago, comes in 3 standard sizes. the one mentioned is close to the standard size, now has smaller and larger size with custom sizes upon request or specs required to what is being hauled, also one could order the bed in a trailer configuration for extra hauling capacity.

    Saves money by eliminating fossil fuel, and requires low maintenance.= low as in little. Though tires on occasion when they blow out/puncture or wear down. chains like chain driven motorcycles or any other chain drive requires once monthly cleaning and re-lubrication, I assume like any hub gear system it requires mileage or yearly change out. Any motors be it hub or chain driven (EcoSpeed) when they break down will require maintenance, repair or replacement, batteries would require replacement when they “die” or newer packs with higher densities for more charge and = longer run time and range or faster recharging come out and one could replace with the newer pack(s) if money allows or needs require.

    Simple design eliminates key parts – no transmission, no differential, no cross-axle. Wheels are independently powered – human to the front, electric…. And that is where it cuts out. Was this a system publishing error?

    Intended for Business and Institutional Use, including warehouse and…. Again was this also some publishing system error?

    Better for denser urban areas given the bed is not to wide or long for use in said area intended where pedestrians walk or jog/run. let alone too inconvenient for larger motor vehicle.

    That is all for you to correct at your discretion.

    Side notes for others.

    Health benefits so long as a motorist does not run into you by accident or purposely. Or you do not run into an accident yourself operating said ecological and economical transport vehicle.

    DMV may not require registration but if you want to protect or insure it in case of theft or damage by others or accidental then you may want to talk with your insurer or other company that provides 75-95% or a deductible if not full coverage for replacement.

  7. Seems very wide to manage without a diff, but on the other hand wonder if it’s wide enough to handle a standard pallet? Would have thought the odd few watts of human input are not worth the expense and complication of the drive system, perhaps as an optional extra. Come to that, why settle for steel for the bed construction when aluminium extrusions could possibly handle it for a massive weight saving. Despite all this, it seems a pretty useful machine in large urban areas. Pizza anyone?

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