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The Electric TerraTrike Rover Tandem

Posted by Jim Strasma on November 29, 2012

 One of my early tasks as a technician here last year was to convert my family's TerraTrike Rover 8 into a tandem when that upgrade first became available. This summer, I similarly learned to convert its drive into IPS (Independent Pedaling System) when that option became available, also replacing one set of pedals with newly-available strapped heel support pedals. This week I learned to make one more change, adding a BionX SL350 RackMount electric assist motor. Each of these upgrades needed and received expert help from others on the Amlings staff. And the result? Our family Rover is now amazing:

The reason for each of this changes was to improve the riding experience for my stoker (back seater) Ellen, allowing our rides to be farther, faster, and much more fun.

The IPS helps by allowing either of us to stop pedaling any time we want, whereas the standard drive requires both riders to pedal whenever either does. One caution: if you use IPS on a Rover with a standard Sturmey Archer 8 speed internal hub, be sure you both have stopped pedaling before changing gears. We found it easiest for the captain (front seater) to either stop pedaling for a couple of seconds before shifting, or to call out shifts before making them.

The strapped heel support pedals allow quick and easy riding in any shoes with complete assurance they will stay in the pedals. Clipless pedals also work well, but some people have trouble angling a foot to unclip.

The BionX helps by amplifying the work of the riders, allowing the bike to go faster. In our case, it nearly doubled our usual riding speed, and still proclaimed itself fully charged after a 9 mile ride today. (SL350 range is up to 65 miles on a charge.) What we like most about the BionX is that it only works when we do, adding to our efforts rather than replacing them. We still both got a good workout, just at a much better pace. One surprise is that the rack mount version of the BionX includes a taillight, and both versions include a cyclecomputer.

If you look carefully at the above picture, see if you can spot all the other added options: headlight mount, clipless pedals in front, mirror in front, bells for both riders, Arkel seat bag in front and TerraTrike seat bag in back, Terratrike pannier bags on the rear rack, combination cable lock, helmet with Lights & Motion Vis360 lights attached, headrest, foam seat cushion, a Superflash Turbo second taillight and flag in back. The tires are also upgraded, with Schwalbe Marathons and deluxe fenders all around.

If you too would like to add any of the above to your Rover, now is an ideal time of year to do so, as our technicians will have plenty of time to devote to getting everything perfect, and all our suppliers have almost everything you might desire in stock and ready to ship.

The Rover Tandem has also been a great bike to ride with young stokers. Moving the seat for them is extremely fast and easy on the Rover, and they can sit crisscross applesauce on the back seat hanging on to the handlebars if their legs can't reach the pedals. Just make sure every stoker knows to keep fingers away from chains and chainwheels.

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