FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) showcased several vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show this year in a special show preview, and one of them was an unusual personal mobility tricycle of sorts – a stand-up electrically powered trike, and for all of you Mopar® fans who don’t want to, or can’t afford to spend the big bucks to own a fully restored, collectable Dodge Charger, Superbird or HEMI ‘Cuda, have we got a deal for you. Okay, there’s really no comparison, but the 2015 Mopar Trikke Pon-e Electric (48V) is totally cool and fun to ride, while also serving to provide the rider some exercise and the ability to do execute musclecar style burnouts, but with the front wheel, rather than the rear. Besides that, it’s way more affordable.
The Mopar Trikke is an electric three-wheeled stand-up ride that is capable of serving as the perfect pit vehicle at race events, as an urban commuter or as a body toner to ready one’s self for the ski season – water or snow. Major features are: a folding frame for easy transport; adjustable handlebar height; a Quick-Swap Lithium-Ion battery with key ignition and a locking feature; a dual speed switch with Econo and Express modes; and dual parking brakes.
The Mopar Trikke’s frame is made of 6061 T6 aluminum with a patented High Performance 3CV Cambering system. Braking is an independent 126mm disk for each of the rear wheels. Wheels are 9.5” alloy units with Abec5 sealed bearings that are shod with an Eigbiz Trikke-65/95-6 /10”x2.5” Motorcycle grade Hi-Pressure Inflatable up front, and two 9.5”x2.5” Heavy Duty Hi-Pressure Inflatable tires in the rear.
The Trikke’s motive force is delivered by a 48V 350W brushless geared hub motor with a free-wheel clutch and a PWM 48V-17A controller. Energy comes from a 48V 11250mAh 540Wh Lithium-Ion battery, rechargeable by either a 54.5V 3.5A or 54.5V 2A charger that delivers a complete charge in either 3 or 5 hours respectively.
Speed is governed by a 1/3 right-hand Twist Grip throttle that features a state of charge indicator operated by a switch selecting between two speeds: Econo or Express. The top Econo speed is 12 mph with a range capability of 22 miles, while the Express mode allows for up to 16 mph and a range of 16 miles. Speed and range in either mode is of course obviously dictated by rider weight, topography, wind, riding style, tire type and proper inflation. Listed ranges are based on an average with a rider weighing 200 pounds.
The Mopar Trikke EV comes folded but is essentially pre-assembled, requiring only the mounting of the handlebar assembly and making a comfortable height adjustment. The angle of the brake handles may also be adjusted. To mount the handlebar assembly, the Mopar Trikke needs to be placed in its upright standing position by unfolding it, after releasing both the left and right trailing platform arm locking pins by pulling and twisting the knob located at the front of each arm. The next step is to align the bars with the front wheel’s axis, by locking the brake levers, standing on the platforms and sighting the proper alignment. The handle bar mounting shaft height is adjusted by releasing the clamp and moving the locking pin located on the back of the shaft to one of the preferred suitable positioning holes and then closing the clamp.
The battery is now ready to be installed by setting the key to the unlocked position and sliding it onto its rail and then locking it in place and turning the key to the ON position.
Now you’re ready to rock and roll (almost). Be sure to wear a helmet, and it’s a good idea to also wear knee and elbow protective pads. It’s suggested to start off in the Econo mode and to practice slow, large arc turns on a flat, smooth, dry surface free of other vehicles. As a safety feature, there are steering stops to avoid turning the front wheel too far in either direction. And, there’s a sidestand for added stationary stability.
The Mopar Trikke has a base price of $2,799.95 and currently comes only in Black with White Mopar graphics. Available accessories include: a helmet, gloves, Knee and elbow pads, a headlight, a blinking light, an anti-theft cable lock, a bag holder, a glove box, a towing trailer, a spare battery, spare battery charger, a 12V DC car charger and an LCD display.
SUMMARY: Riding the 2015 Mopar Trikke by Trikke Tech is not at all like riding a Segway. Direction is determined by the proper use of the handlebars and how to push them to the right or to the left since the front wheel is designed to trail the front fork, and the handlebar has a tendency to turn in the direction that the Trikke is tilted. A bicycle tends to follow a straight line, whereas with the Trikke, the front wheel actually accentuates the turn.
The Trikke requires that both hands be on the handlebars at all times, and sudden sharp turns should be avoided. Turning too quickly can cause the Trikke to “jack-knife” , which may throw the rider off, subjecting him or her to injury. It is better to think more in terms of leaning and less than turning. The motion and trajectory of large “S” turns are best for Trikke beginners. Weight distribution is key in the smooth, efficient and safe operation of the Mopar Trikke. Riding on a level playing field is best for beginners and skills should be perfected before tackling a climbing exercise or steep descent.
It is best when riding downhill to be able to control slowing speed through a series of turning maneuvers rather than through continued use of brakes, which can not only shorten brake pad and rear tire life expectancy, cause reaching speeds where stopping distances are increased along with the risk of a fall.
TRIKKE Tech offers other vehicles as well, such as the Trikke Body Powered Vehicle (BPV), which delivers an excellent form of low impact exercise involving the entire body, while providing fun combined with transportation – best described as skiing on the streets. There’s also the Trikke Skki – a snow ski carving vehicle with three ski blade runners that draw the curves by leaning the handlebars in the direction of the turn, and it’s claimed that it’s easier to learn to ride compared to skis or snowboards.
The Mopar Trikke takes practice to gain confidence and to masterfully control skills. The acceleration rate is highly sensitive even in the Econo mode, and even more so in the Express mode. It can be difficult to avoid spinning the front tire since the front wheel is where the hub motor is located. Once a comfort zone is achieved through practice, the Mopar Trikke is a ton of fun to ride. Plus, it actually adds the benefit of exercise, unlike a Segway. Now, if it only came in a Dodge Sublime finish.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 MoPar Pon-e Electric Trikke (48V)
|Price as Tested:||$2,849.95 – * Est.|
|Engine Type and Size:||48V 350W brushless geared 10-inch hub motor with free- wheel clutch, PWM 48V-17A controller and 1/3 twist grip throttle with state of charge indicator. Battery – 48V 11250mAh 540Wh Lithium=Ion with Panasonic cells. Charger – 54.5V 3.5A or 54.5V 2A.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||Not measured.|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||Not measured.|
|Transmission:||Direct Drive geared hub motor.|
|Drive Train:||Final drive – Direct Drive geared front-wheel hub motor.|
Front – Solid front fork split off of vertical steering axle (column).
Rear – Left and right split arms off of twin cambering Axle joints with center hub mounts. 3CV System.
|Brakes:||Dual Independent 126mm discs (rear wheels).|
|Tires:||Eigbiz Trikke-65/95-6 /10”x2.5” Motorcycle grade Hi-Pressure Inflatable – front / two 9.5”x2.5” Heavy Duty Hi-Pressure Inflatable mounted on 9.5” alloy wheels with Abec5 sealed bearings.|
|Length Overall:||49.0 inches – 56.0-inches folded|
|Height:||50-54 inches – 13.4-inches folded (handlebar height adjustable).|
|Curb Weight:||46.0 lbs. – with battery|
|Fuel Capacity:||None – electric|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||Range=22 miles Econo / 16 miles Express|
|Seat Height:||No seat|
|0 – 60 mph:||16.0 mph – (12 mph Econo mode / 16 mph Express mode).|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.