From July 1 to November 1, 2018, my wife and I had the opportunity to ride dozens of rails-to-trails, greenways, and various multi-use paths on a cross-country motorhome trip from Eugene, Oregon to Jackman, Maine and back. During our four-month vacation, we logged hundreds of miles on our HP Velotechnik Scorpion tadpole trikes equipped with speed/torque-sensing Falco 750w, 48v electric assist hub motors that we purchased from Falco eMotors and installed at home.
The Falco setup functioned flawlessly, allowing us to explore a variety of trails and lightly travelled roads across the middle to northern tiers of the country. Excursions included such gems as the Hiawatha and Coeur d’ Alene’s Trails in northern Idaho to the long-haul, hard-packed limestone prairie trails of the Midwest, to the myriad of oft-connected bike routes in the Great Lakes Region to the loop and carriage roads of Acadia National Park and beyond.
The only hiccup that we experienced during the entire trip occurred in the waning days when I inadvertently chose the wrong software setting for my trike using the Falco Flash App on my Android phone. This elegant and easy to use app pairs our batteries to the motors allowing us to make adjustments to our personal settings and changes to the graduated levels of pedal assist while underway. After multiple failed attempts to get the system to respond, I decided to call the Falco office for assistance. My call requesting help was answered by Rakesh Dhawan, the company’s president and CEO, who successfully guided me thorough a troubleshooting set of questions that quickly resolved my issue.
While this turned out to be an easily resolved minor problem of my own doing, I was impressed, once again, with the excellent level of service provided by the Falco team. From initial questions involving the installs and testing of the various system components nearly two years ago to today, Falco’s CEO, dedicated team of engineers and mechanics have responded to my inquires, whether via email or over the phone in a timely and helpful manner.
A background note: After much research on recumbent trikes, my wife and I ordered two HP Velotechnik Scorpion trikes in 2013 from a bike/trike shop in Portland, Oregon. The trikes were built to our specifications and shipped from their assembly plant outside of Frankfort, Germany. In the beginning, they were ordered with no thought to motorizing them. Instead, Schlumpf Mountain Drives were added upfront and three-speed internal hubs were installed in the rear. With this setup we believed we would be able tackle steep hills, often a requirement when riding the backroads of Oregon.
However, nearly three years later, after multiple rides, some involving multi-day camping along scenic bike routes, we began discussing the potential benefits of pedal assist that would help us move with greater ease and at a faster clip (say, at the speed of leisurely bike riders, who constantly flew by us), especially when it came to tackling hills. A pivotal point came in our decision-making when, in January, 2016, we vacationed in Death Valley National Park. On a beautiful morning we decided to ride our trikes up the park road to the colorful rock formation know as Artists Palette. It was an absolute slog going up as our average speed dropped below 2 mph with maximum physical exertion in our lowest gears. For over two hours, not including stops every hundred yards or so to catch our breath, we finally reached the top. Even with the promise of an exhilarating ride back down the mountain, we decided then and there that recumbent triking needed to be less work and more fun.
Both of us are in our early-70s, having retired from our jobs as educators more than ten years ago. We currently enjoy a variety of activities…especially those involving camping, hiking, kayaking and/or riding our trikes whenever we can. Keeping fit while enjoying outdoor adventures is a key goal in our lives. This is especially true in my case, having experienced two heart attacks in my mid-40s followed by quadruple bypass surgery a pacemaker/defibrillator implant a decade later.
While one might be tempted to argue that motorizing a bike or trike might result in less exercise and, thus, a lower level of fitness, our reasoning is just the opposite. To our way of thinking, we believe we are more likely to get out and ride more often when we know that there is likely to be a higher level of enjoyment. For us, at least, this has turned out to be the case.
After much research on various types of motors, we elected to add 750 W Falco motors to our 20 inch rear wheels. This five-phase hub motor is very smooth to pedal even without choosing one of five levels of assist though, admittedly, without power more rider effort is required due to the additional weight of the battery and motor.
Our 2017 model motors allow us to set our own riding parameters with respect to the amount of torque the motor will supply under sail at various levels of assist. There are many other features that are programmable based on our needs that I won’t take time to delineate here. Suffice to say, the riding experience is a very satisfactory one unlike many aftermarket setups that we examined, where raw power of some motorized systems can overpower the rider.
The control device that we have chosen to use on our trikes is an Ant+ enabled Android phone using Falco’s Falco Flash 2.0 app. Our phones pair with our respective motors, each having a different set of parameters based on our desired levels of assist and other requirements. With the flick of a finger on the phone’s screen, levels of assist can be increased or decreased. The motors also have regenerative settings that will help charge the battery in the event of long descents. In our opinion, the use of a mobile phone and free downloadable software is one of the best features of the Falco system and a very eloquent one, indeed.
We have been riding for almost five years now, with the last two involving pedal assist. Without hesitation, the addition of the Falco motors to our trikes has made an appreciable difference in terms of sheer enjoyment, whether it involves short rides around town, day rides averaging 20-30 miles, or multi-day rides involving tent camping or B&B’s. As I have often said in response to questions from others: “Those once dreaded hills have been softened, if not flattened, with pedal assist.”
The rails-to-trails movement throughout the United States over the past decade or so has resulted in the proliferation of hundreds of indescribably beautiful and varied trail riding experiences. The collection of trails catalogued in The Official Rails-to-Trails Guidebooks offers detailed descriptions of these wonderful, traffic-free, gentle-grade trails.
One of our first exposures to the joys of trail riding was a four-day trike/camping trip along The Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes in northern Idaho. Our first trip was done without motor assist; subsequent trips with pedal assist to the panhandle region of northern Idaho have included the Hiawatha Trail and the longer Bitterroot 300k. The great memories we have of these trips will last a lifetime.
In addition to the plethora of rails-to-trails, there are greenways and other multi-use paths to be explored in municipalities and counties throughout the United States and Canada. Check them out! You will be surprised by the number and variety of trails that await
On July 1, 2018, we left our home in Eugene, Oregon bound for Nova Scotia with two cats aboard our fullly-loaded 27 ft. motorhome with a Honda CRV in tow. Inside the CRV, with the back seats removed, were our two, fully extended trikes; on the roof rack were our two kayaks.
Some days we elected to hike, other days, usually when camped at or near a lake, we chose to kayak or fish. Our most enjoyable times together, however, were spent triking, when we could become immersed in the beauty and quietude of miles upon miles of breathtakingly beautiful scenery, whether it involved water or rock features, small, out of-the-way rural towns, lush forests, endless prairie vistas, or high desert environments.
We are already planning another trip next month to the Southwest. Our itinerary will take us through California, into Nevada and Arizona as our final destination. We are looking forward to enjoying many yet to be explored trails with our Falco pedal assist recumbent trikes.
Below, in somewhat chronological order, are a few of the photos showing our setup along with others taken during rides on our roundtrip voyage to the East Coast and back. The length and duration of the rides varied, but all were interesting and enjoyable explorations.
Review the Pictures Here: