My experimental trike.
Previous motor and engine installations from the beginning to the latest version
The wheel base of the trike is 48″ and the front width is 33-34″ The original rear wheel was aluminum and from a 26 inch mountain bike. The front wheels were orginaly 20 inch single speed rear wheels that I took apart and removed the brake mechanisim from. It took parts from 2 hubs to create each front wheel hub. They had 2 sets of bearings on each side of the hub and rolled very easily. All the tires are the knobby type. I prefer this type as I ride all over the local area with this thing including some forest trails.
The seat frame is fabricated from 3/4 emt and the original cover from heavy nylon cloth that started life out as a “stuff” bag in the camping department of the local large-mart. I split the seams, hemmed the edges and added grommets. It was almost the exact size I needed with having to trim more than a few inches from one end. (this is the only local source of -heavy- nylon cloth I have found and luckily they are only 3-4 dollars per bag.)
The spring in the picture of the back of the seat was originally under the bottom ring and supplied the seat with a small amount of suspension. I eventually removed it as it didn’t help much nor did I like the bouncing on trails. I mounted the rear of the seat solidly at an angle I liked.
The steering is a tank type setup that I have used on other trikes and I really like it. It gives a slight mechanical disadvantage to the steering arms and keeps the steering from being too sensitive at least up till about 20 mph which is faster than I normaly ride so it isn’t any problem.
The original braking was supplied by dual caliper setups on the rear rim and worked OK for the area where I live as it’s fairly flat.
The main frame is built from two 20 inch bike forks and headtubes with the rear triangle from a 26 inch road bike. The main boom tubes are 1 7/8″ inch steel muffler pipe and so far the frame has taken everything I have managed to throw at it and I weigh about 200 pounds.
The gear system is Shimino 18 speed that I took from the 26″ parts bike. There is no derailer on the front gears, I just lift the chain cover tube to switch them back and forth. I have tried mounting the front derailers on other trikes but I always end up with a really difficult cable control for it and most of the time I stay in high gear in the front anyway. The extra derailer on the bottom chain is there simply to take up slack, I didn’t want to use two chain tubes. The back upper chain pully was just a scateboard wheel I turned down on my lathe. It worked well and was very quiet. The controls are mounted on the right steering arm with the outside lever controlling the rear gears and the inside lever operating the control for the motor on/off button the sticks out of the motor enclosure.
The frame over the rear wheel is for a small 250 watt electric motor assist system ETC_express that I bought off the net. It pushes the bike about 12-15 mph by itself. As a matter of fact, I have to stay in high gear just to add any pedaling assist to the motor. So far it has lasted about 14 miles in the longest test I’ve given it. It is completely self contained, motor,batteries,charger,controller are all in a small package that just slides into the rack. The controller really doesn’t control your speed, it just turns the motor on after you are going at least 3-4 mph. Since this system drives the back tire directly I guess this is to keep the motor roller from grinding spots in the tire. We originally had the motor on my sons mountain bike but because it weighs 28 pounds, it would throw his balance on the bike off and he didn’t like to use it. It’s weight doesn’t bother the trike at all and actually contributes somewhat to balance out the wheel loads of the trike.
I have made a few small modifications, the seat is now welded solid to the frame. I have also installed a trailor hitch, this is not a bike hitch that mounts on the rear axel for pulling the little kiddie carts but is a full triangle extension from the rear frame with a regular hitch mount.
Motor setup 24v 300 watt
The seat frame is now covered with the plastic flexible hanger tape that is used for mounting heating ducts. I wove it right onto the seat frame. I looks great and from what I can find out , this stuff has alot better UV resistance and it’s also stronger than the nylon cloth.
All the electrical parts are from an e-scooter. The trike was then running a 24v 300 watt motor being powered by 2 12v 12Ah batteries. I also had room in the battery boxes for another set just like them. By using two sets I could use one set going and the other set coming back home
It now has a really bright headlight, brake light, turn signals and a horn. I changed out the 26″ rear wheel/tire for a 20″ rear wheel/tire and moved the brakes to the front wheels. I’m not really happy with them there as the trike tends to brake steer if both handles are not squeezed equaly but there really wasn’t any other choice with the smaller rear wheel.
Electric Setup 750w 36v
The motor and battery system has been upgraded to a 36v 750w motor. I got three new lead acid batteries for the system. The motor has had the jackshaft reinstalled due to the fact it was simply too fast without it. With the jackshaft in place the top speed is about 20 mph which keeps it legal. It will also pull quite a heavy load in low gear.
It had running lights, turn signals, brake light, headlights, and the rear flashing lights that are run off the wheel coil generators.
The control box had also been replaced. That one had the light controls built into it. A LED digital meter for the battery voltage. I have also added the main battery cutout, an on/off switch for the motor controller and a switch that is currently unused but will be as an “a” or “b” selector for the batteries when I get the charger trailer finished and useable.
The headlights are actually the small 9 led flashlights that Harbor Freight has on sale all the time. They will last about 8 hours on a set of 3 AAA batteries.
Comfort Cruiser Setup with New 49cc Pocket Bike Gas Engine
The trike’s motor mount section was converted to use a 49cc pocket bike engine. It was tied into the same bottom bearing jack shaft that all the electric motors have used. This setup has a cvt type transmission also mounted to the engine. The engine came off a barely used X1 type pocket bike I bought from a neighbor.
The gear setup is 12 tooth on the engine, 44 tooth on the large driven gear on the engine side. On the drive chain side a 28 tooth freewheel drives the rear gear cluster. The 44 tooth gear was picked to keep the engine in the same output range that it was running when mounted on the pocket bike. It use a smalled drive gear also so I had to figure out the difference in tire sizes and apply that to the current gear. I think a 45 tooth was actually called for but the closest thing I had was the 44 tooth version.
It works fine just the way it is and will go about 30 mph when driving the smallest gear on the rear cluster with the engine wide open. That is too fast for my taste so I keep it down around 15-20 mph. It much quieter at those speeds also. It has more than enough power to pull any of my trailers without any problems.
I built my own muffler for it and to my surprise it actually works fairly well. Instead of sounding like a chain saw gone berserk is now sounds like a regular small motorcycle or moped.
The lighting system is getting switched over to 12 volts from the 36 volt system. I’m now using 12 volt utility lights from Harbor Freight for the headlights. Eventually I will also have one battery that will be hooked up into the electrical system that will run the lights when the engine is not running fast enough to light them up. I’m still working on that part.
The generator on the engine is also supposed to able to be used as a starter for the engine. Until I finally got the engine broke in a little bit the generator/starter didn’t have enough torque to even turn the engine over. So for most of the time I used the engine I had to pull start it. That works fine but I was glad to finally be able to start it with the starter. It starts much faster that way.
I have since switched that engine out with another small 4 cycle engine that I don’t have to add oil to the gas for.
Setup using Harbor Freight 2.5 hp 4 cycle engine
The 2.5 hp assist engine just fits behind the seat with about 2″ between it and the seat back. I took off the gas tank and stock muffler. The gas tank is now mounted where a seat is normally mounted on the rear triangle frame. It will eventually be replaced with a larger one is this one only holds 1/3 of a gallon when full.
I built another muffler for the engine as there was no way to mount it without it being too close to either the gas tank or the frame of the trike. The current muffler is made from a from a 1/2″ pipe extending into a 12″ section of exhaust pipe. The small pipe is blocked at the end and has quite a number of 1/4″ holes drilled into it’s sides. The rest of the large tube is packed with 4 of those stainless steel scubby pads used for dishwashing. It’s not the quietest muffler around but the wool kills all the high frequency sounds and it rather sounds like a small motor cycle engine. The engine is tied into the same bottom bearing jack shaft that all the electric motors have used except both bull and driver sprocket are on the left side. It’s not connected in any way to the regular pedal chain setup.
The gear setup is 12 tooth on the engine, 44 tooth on the large driven gear on the engine side. On the drive chain side a 14 tooth freewheel drives the rear gear mounted of the left side of the rear wheel. That is a 44 tooth gear. It works out to a total of 11.52 for gear ratio. The ratio was picked to keep the final speed of the trike down to 23 mph at max engine rpm of 3600. That is still faster than I normally ride. I tend to keep it around 15 mph. Faster than that and I can’t keep up with the pedals even in high gear. It much quieter at those speeds also. It has more than enough power to pull any of my trailers without any problems. The engine will run quite a bit faster than 3600 rpm with the governor removed. It maxed out at 37 mph. That is WAY too fast for the steering type it uses.
The front wheels have been switched out to rear type plastic/nylon mag wheels. These allowed me to mount band type scooter brakes on the wheels where free wheels would normally mount which I thought would work better than caliber brakes against plastic wheels. Less wear and tear on the wheels that way. They do work very well too.
Latest Rebuild with Electric Hub Motor
This fall I completely sand blasted, rebuilt all rusted bits and repainted the entire trike. The stearing was also changed from the tank type setup I originally used to a more modern under the seat steering system. The band type brakes I had on the front wheels have been switched over to drum type and I must say that these drum brakes work much better than any others I have ever tried on it.
While this setup doesn’t have anywhere near the range the little gas engine had it does have the benefit of being almost completely silent and this is the first time any of the electric motors or gas engines I have tried were actually quiet! It’s really nice to be able to go down the road and hear my little portable radio for a change.