Size: 7.6 feet long
Weight: 95 pounds
Motor: Brose Drive S, 250 Watts, 90Nm torque
Battery: 36V, 501Wh
Max speed: 15mph
Range: Not advertised
Transmission: Shimano Nexus 5-speed
Triobike’s Mono e-cargo bike looks like a Star Trek daydream: The front capsule’s rounded front feels reminiscent of a ship zipping through the space-time continuum, and the pod within could easily enough launch into another realm with the right imagination sitting within. In other words, the Mono is very easy for kids to love.
That counts for a lot as families attempt to transition away from car rides when it’s time to take the kids somewhere. If it’s fun for the kids (and there’s enough space left over for soccer equipment or groceries), you can bet the parents will roll out the cargo bike a lot more often. But, as I found during this Triobike Mono review, it’s a difficult bike to manage, with unpredictable steering that tends to wander and buck while cornering. The Mono has a lot of neat features that unfortunately do not make up for steering difficulties.
Triobike Mono review: Price and availability
The base model Triobike Mono costs $7,899, but my test model came with a few accessories like the seat and side pillows kit ($419), and the hood ($399), which bumped the price up to $8,717.
You can upgrade to a Gates Belt Drive system over the Shimano Nexus system I tested, which bumps the base price up to $8,600.
You can configure your Mono via the Triobike website (Triobike.com). Once configured, the website will point you to a local dealer that can complete the purchase. There are numerous dealers throughout the United States; I got my test model from Freedom Folding Bikes in Boulder, Colorado.
Triobike Mono review: Design
The Triobike Mono’s handlebars attach to a long tube that attaches directly to the cargo box. When you turn the handlebar, you’re turning the cargo box and front wheels as well.
Each front wheel gets a dedicated steering strut. These hydraulic struts extend or collapse depending on which direction you turn the handlebars. These should help stabilize the front end when turning.
The step-through design allows you to get settled on the seat before you start pedaling. Each brake also features a ‘parking brake.’ Turn the dial to activate the brakes and hold them there. This is ideal especially when you’re parking the bike on a sloped surface.
An integrated rear wheel lock helps solve a big problem with all cargo bikes: how to secure it when you’re not riding it. I’d still prefer to have this locked to a post or bike rack, but the rear wheel lock certainly adds a much-needed layer of theft protection.
The Mono Mid Drive features a 250-watt Brose Drive S motor with 90Nm max torque. It’s a pretty quiet motor, and the display unit on the handlebars is easy to use. It’s bright and easy to read too.
All told, Triobike says the Mono is the lightest three-wheeled cargo bike on the market at 95 pounds.
Like most of its competition, the Triobike Mono features integrated lights front and rear that turn on automatically when you turn on the motor.
Triobike Mono review: Cargo capacity
The cargo box is constructed as one piece and is filled with polyurethane foam for added safety. It has a built-in drain as well. The box measures 72 centimeters, or just over 28 inches, across. Triobike says the cargo box has a 220-liter (58 gallon) capacity, and can hold up to 310 pounds.
Triobike Mono review: Performance
Riding the Triobike Mono is a thrill for kids. It can be a less enthusiastic experience for adults.
The Brose Drive S motor lends enough power to get the bike going to about 12 or 13 miles per hour fairly easily, but after that, you’re left to your own power. It doesn’t kick in immediately when you’re starting from a dead stop either, so it’s easy to find yourself in an awkward position as you try to get the heft of the bike moving under your own power.
When you steer the handlebars, you’re actually turning the entire cargo box. That means weight shifts as you steer. At speeds over 12 or 13 mph, the steering felt far too unpredictable and difficult to control. In fact, the steering became the primary distraction for me when I was testing this bike. Once it’s going, I found it far too easy to get the bike up on two wheels with the slightest of steering input while the cargo bay was only lightly loaded.
At lower speeds the Triobike Mono feels more stable, but it still takes a pretty steep learning curve to get used to controlling the bike. I found myself steering off the bike path even at low speeds until I really got the hang of the Mono’s drastic movements.
The Brose handlebar unit is easy to use and plenty intuitive. The motor operates very quietly. And the bike itself is fairly comfortable to sit on and pedal. It’s adjustable easily enough too, which comes in handy should multiple riders end up using the bike frequently and need to adjust it to various heights.
The Brose motor gives you enough torque to conquer most hills, though it starts to whine pretty loudly on the steepest sections. Most moderate hills I rode presented little problem for the Mono.
Triobike Mono review: Battery life
The mono includes a 36V, 501Wh battery. On my first ride, I rode the Mono for over an hour at the highest assist setting and I knocked the battery life down one bar. In other words, there was plenty left in the tank.
It’s worth noting, however, that Triobike includes a second battery mount just beneath the kids’ seat inside the cargo box. If you’ll be spending a lot of time on the bike daily, it may be worth stashing that second battery (which is sold separately).
Triobike Mono review: Accessories
The Triobike website allows you to configure your bike, and there are plenty of accessories to choose from. My test bike came with the Triobike Mono Hood, which costs $399.
The hood seems like a no-brainer for anyone who intends to tote their kids around. It’s water-resistant, fire-tested, and 100% UV stable, according to Triobike. It also features plenty of zippers so you can access contents within from various locations.
My test bike also included a seat and side pillows ($419), which makes for a safe, comfortable pod for kids.
An extra battery will cost an added $939 and an extra charger runs $129. Other accessories, like kickstands, locks, and even a GPS tracker are priced on the website. It’s very easy to turn your Mono into a vehicle that costs over $10,000.
Triobike Mono review: The competition
The Mono fits into a pretty large e-bike segment. There’s plenty of competition, though most of the Mono’s direct competitors don’t look a whole lot like it does. The unique cargo box sets it apart, but generally, it accomplishes the same thing as its competitors: move stuff, and people.
The Mono goes up against bikes like Yuba’s SuperCargo CL (starting at $6,000), Urban Arrow’s Family e-cargo bike (starting at $6,000), and Riese and Müller’s Load 60 (starting at $8,800). It features a three-wheel design like the Bunch Coupe.
So it fits generally into the range of expected cost for such a bike, though it’s on the higher end of that range. The question is, should it be? It’s closest in price to the Riese and Müller Load 60, which features front and rear suspension, a Shimano XT/FSA mix drivetrain, and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes.
The Riese and Müller’s motor and battery spec also beats the Triobike Mono. The Bosch Cargo Line motor has 85Nm torque and a 36V, 500Wh battery (and there are 2 batteries included at the base model, whereas you must purchase a second battery from Triobike separately).
Given the competition’s spec and pricing, it seems the Triobike Mono is on the expensive side for what you get.
Triobike Mono review: Verdict
The Triobike Mono has a ton of capacity and it’s a ton of fun for the kids riding in the capsule. But it’s not a fun bike to ride for the adult doing the pedaling.
The biggest drawback to the Triobike Mono is the steering. The learning curve here is super-steep and it’s very easy to oversteer and get one of the two front wheels off the ground. On off-camber roads, steering the Triobike Mono can be a scary proposition.
It seems that the steering is so unpredictable because you end up moving the entire cargo box along with the handlebar. At speeds over 14 MPH, the steering becomes noticeably more difficult to control. Our review of the Bunch Coupe revealed similar reservations with steering, and both bikes require a learning curve to learn how to steer safely and properly.
The best electric bikes in this category separate the steering from the box itself; in other words, when the bike turns, the cargo box stays put. Not so on the Mono. Shifting all that weight seems to contribute to the difficult steering.
The cargo box is the Mono’s best feature. It’s big, versatile, and looks pretty cool. I liked using the hood too, which made it easy to protect the contents of the cargo box without feeling completely cut off from the inside of the box. I frequently used the zippers to access my camera within the box.
The Mono from Triobike seems best for parents who live in a city where high speeds aren’t going to be a factor. It’s also good if you’re going to carry heavy loads frequently — think big trips to the grocery store. It’s best on flat paths and roads; once the road goes down, the steering gets difficult to control. But that’s a lot of caveats for something this expensive.