Category Archives: e-trikes
Frequently the subject of the use of electric motor assistance on a trike comes up on a Facebook group discussion. And sadly there are always some folks who attack and criticize and pass judgement on anyone who dares to use e-assist. In doing so they usually boast about themselves being able to ride their trikes unassisted. It gets old even though I would rather imagine those same people have heard/read others say that with the use of e-assist they are able to ride further, faster and with no or greatly reduced discomfort while getting far more exercise than they can possibly get trying to ride without the help of a motor. And they greatly enjoy riding thanks to their e-assist. I know from personal experience that all of what I am saying is true. Having e-assist has made a huge difference in my life.
Anybody who has been following me thru the years and reading what I have written about motorizing a trike knows that I am against it if one doesn’t need it. That hasn’t changed one iota. Motorizing a trike defeats the purpose of a human powered vehicle … namely getting exercise. I rode for as long as I could pedaling along and as time passed I suffered more and more in pain and discomfort. Many others have the same testimony.
Those that pass judgement on those of us who have turned to e-assist need to be thankful that they are still able to ride “unassisted”. I just hope that if ever they come to the point where they too need to turn to e-assist they will wake up and understand just how wrong they have been in their stance against those who use e-assist. Hopefully they will REPENT. And may we all just …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
Electric motor assist has become quite popular and several trike manufacturers already offer models with e-assist. I have noticed over the years that Catrike is consistently slow in coming out with models to compete with other manufacturer products. For instance, they still don’t offer a FAT tire trike which seems strange to me since FAT tire trikes are quite popular. I have also noticed that when they do eventually come out with new products they are always superb. That is not true of all trike manufacturers. As I write this there is very little information available about the E-Cat. In fact, the only thing I can find about the E-Cat is on Facebook. Two different entities have posted on Facebook about the debut of the E-Cat. For fear of getting in trouble copying and pasting what they have to say I will simply supply a LINK to one of the articles. (They both read the same other than the time and location of their events.)
Here is what Catrike has released at this point:
“At the heart of the E-Cat line is the latest in electric assist systems. The result is a Catrike with the perfect combination of maximum efficiency, comfort and riding enjoyment. The efficient and versatile electric assist drive provides dynamic performance – guaranteeing an authentic riding sensation with minimal pedaling resistance. It delivers active and sporty acceleration even at low cadences, offering powerful assistance as soon as you step on the pedals. In addition, the system’s multi-sensor technology and fast information processing ensure optimum interaction between you and your E-Cat.
Featuring E-Cat specific graphics, the E-Cat line will be available in all eight of Catrike’s signature colors: Moon Rock Silver, Liquid Black, Eon Green, Firefly Yellow, Atomic Orange, Lava Red, Candy Purple and of course Electric Blue.”
Here is Catrike’s new graphic for the E-Cat:
The E-Cat will be shown at the Pacific TrikeFest in Portland, OR on October 5 and then at the Recumbent Cycle Con in Nashville, TN Oct. 11-13. .
It will be interesting to see what Catrike is offering. The article states that there won’t be any new models for the E-Cat. Instead they are simply using existing models and motorizing them. We can only hope that Catrike will sell a conversion kit so that anyone with a non motorized model can upgrade to the e-assist on their current trike. I have just read that they wii starting next Spring. Here is what the Bosch crank drive motor looks like …
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
I purposely titled this “what I THINK I know about battery charging” for good reason. I only know what I have read and experienced thus far. I am certainly no expert and I readily admit that at times I have found what I have read a bit confusing and perhaps even contradictory. I have had 4 batteries thus far … all lithium ion and all 48 volts. What has been different about them is their capacity or power rating. I started out with a 6.6 aH Bionx battery that fit in a rear rack. I found that it was way too small. I ran out of battery power long before I was done riding each day. I used to carry the charger with me to recharge the battery while I was out riding … taking valuable time stopped to do this. Below is a picture of my trike stopped in a city park recharging the Bionx battery.
Bionx was good enough to allow me to return the battery to the dealer and get their largest battery … which is only 11.6aH … still not very powerful. I had problems with my Bionx system so I ended up returning everything for a refund as they either couldn’t or wouldn’t fix the issue I was experiencing. Next I got a 20aH battery which also mounted in a rear rack. Later I bought a second one and have one available as an extra battery if I need it or want to have it along with me although I usually only have one along with me.
In charging these batteries they each take a certain length of time based on two factors: 1) How far down in their charge level they are and 2) the charger being used to recharge them. BTW, a lithium ion battery should never be used beyond 80 % of its capacity. 20 % charge should remain in the battery. Naturally the larger the battery rating the longer it takes to recharge it unless one uses a more powerful charger. Lithium Ion batteries are best charged slowly. In fact, fast charging can harm them and reduce their life span. My 20aH batteries came with a 2 amp charger. That is a pretty small charger as far as chargers go. Yet there is a reason why the company selling them supplies this size charger. In short, it is to get maximum life out of the battery. There are lithium ion batteries out there that recharge in only 1 hour. That is because they are being charged fast. At 2 amps my 20aH batteries take about 10 hours to recharge (20 divided by 2 equals 10).
I recently bought a 5 amp charger after reading about this subject. 5 amps is as large as I dare go for fear of damaging the batteries. Even at 5 amps I am a bit concerned. I started using it and immediately was alarmed at the result as I thought I had already damaged the battery. I noticed that it did not charge up quite as much as it always had when using the 2 amp charger. I also noticed that as I started riding using it it seemed to run down quicker than it always had before. I decided to use the 2 amp charger again and much to my relief everything returned to normal … I had a fuller charge and once more was able to get the same distance out of the battery charge as I was getting before. WHEW! My battery is okay … at least as far as I can tell. After using the 2 amp charger again for about 3 days I went back to the 5 amp charger.
It usually takes about 5 hours to recharge the battery using the 5 amp charger. Doing the same math … 20 divided by 5 … one would think that it would take 4 hours. Again, I am no expert on this but I think the math comes out differently because in the recharging process the circuitry has built into it a slow down toward the final part of the process. Lithium ion batteries are a bit complicated and the charging process is also complicated. It is all very high tech and the circuitry has safeguards built into it. The same is true of the motor controller. Without this damage can and would occur. And fire is also a great concern. It is important that we always use proper equipment made for our e-system. BTW, even though I am back using the 5 amp charger I do not know at this time if I am shortening the life of my battery. I know I would be best off using the 2 amp charger most all of the time and only use the 5 amp charger if I am in a hurry.
E-assist has become extremely popular and with more and more trike riders getting it we need to know about our batteries and charging them. We need to be safe. We certainly don’t want to prematurely age our battery’s life nor have our earthly possessions going up in flame. We all want to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
Now I ask you … are you phony? I am talking about while riding your trike. I must confess, I am … at least some of the time. Not many have probably heard of the term “faux pedaling”. Faux is a French word which means “fake”. Faux pedaling has recently become part of cycling vocabulary as a result of equipping bikes (and trikes) with motors. Now riding a bike or trike which is strictly “pedal assist” one can’t be guilty of faking it as in order for the cycle to move the rider must be pedaling supplying some degree of human power applied to the pedals. But for those who have a hand throttle they certainly can get away with faking it if they choose to. I am talking about simply pedaling without actually pushing on the pedals adding anything which helps move the cycle along. They are simply turning the crankset and it can’t be detected whether or not they are actually helping propel the cycle along. Yes, sometimes I am just turning the crankset … faking it. But for what it is worth … sometimes I am pedaling and not using the motor at all … providing 100 % of the propulsion. So please don’t be too hard on me. I am out there nearly everyday riding approximately 50 miles a day. I may be faking it or I may not be. I am not telling. I assure you that I am getting quite a lot of exercise … more with a motor than I got without one. And with the motor I am truly …
ENJOYING THE RIDE!
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
Are you considering adding an electric motor onto your tadpole trike? Anyone who has looked into doing so will surely notice that there are lots of motors out there. However the vast majority are pretty much intended for conventional bicycles with 26 inch wheels. If your trike has a 20 inch rear wheel there are not nearly as many choices. With BionX out of the picture there are even fewer main players. Some that do exist are not very well known. I personally have an eZee hub motor. Most people have probably never heard of it. I have pretty much made the decision not to recommend any brand over another brand and let the trike owner research their options and choose whatever they want. Quite frankly I don’t want anyone upset with me over the choice they made.
I have written several articles in the past about e-motors and shared about my own personal experiences with hub motors on my trike.
One of the companies offering e-motors for trikes is EBO … Electric Bike Outfitters. EBO offers several different packages of hub motors as well as a mid-drive motor. Their packages are complete and ready to install. Motor, controller, display console, throttle, e-brake levers, pedal assist, and battery … it’s all there.
Their batteries are limited to 11 aH however as seems to be the case with many suppliers. 11 aH is fine if you don’t ride all that far, but just not large enough for those who ride greater distances. Nobody likes hauling around more weight than they have to so having two batteries is not something most people want to do. They are not only heavy, but they are bulky as well. And, of course, they are the costliest part of the components. Still this company is offering their wares and I simply want to make others aware of them.
Looking thru their offerings THIS ONE would be my pick as it is 750 watt. The total price was $1528 for the various selections I made. Most of their motors are 350 watt including their mid-drive. 350 watts is sufficient for most unless one does a lot of steep long hills. The 350 watt BionX hub motor I had was quite sufficient for my riding needs.
Here is the 500 watt hub motor.
Whatever you decide on may you …
ENJOY THE RIDE!
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
E-assist … becoming more and more popular is something which ideally should involve some research before making the plunge. HERE is a webpage which offers help.
It is a comparison of the different electric bike motor systems to help you determine which configuration is best for your riding needs.
In this article by Electric Bike Report.com there are the pros and cons of each system: the hub motors (front and rear), the mid drive motor, the friction drive motor, and the rocket drive! (I wonder why it is named that. Do you suppose it is super fast compared to the others? Just FYI, rocket drive has nothing to do with electric motor assist. It is as the name implies … a rocket engine mounted on a bike. I assumed that somebody has already made a rocket engine propelled recumbent trike, but when I searched online for such an animal I came up empty.)
So if you are considering motorizing your tadpole trike this may be of help to you in doing your homework. 🙂
I took the plunge about a year and a half ago and have no regrets. I really love having the e-assist even though I had some problems finding a system that worked out okay for me. I have a few different articles I wrote about all I went thru with the three different companies I have dealt with thus far. HERE is one of them. HERE is another. And HERE is another. And another. HERE is an article I wrote on hub motors vs mid drive motors. The hub motor I have now is serving me well and I am very pleased with it. Most definitely e-assist can help us …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
Some of you know I have had 3 different brands of e-motor conversion kits installed on my trike. I can only speak from my experience with these three motors.
The first was a 350 watt BionX conversion kit. While it worked properly I loved it. Admittedly I didn’t love the price nor the replacement cost for the battery. Also I was not impressed that the largest battery BionX offers is only 11.6aH … only good for about 30 to 35 miles. The motor was a brushless gearless direct drive type which was relatively small yet quite powerful. It had a lot of torque for such a small motor. BionX is a proprietary system which was what I believe caused their downfall. They filed bankruptcy last February 27th. It is all such a shame as they really did have an excellent system. Everything fit and installed normally and easily.
The second hub motor I tried was a Golden Motor Magic Pie Edge. It was large and very heavy (19 pounds). It too was a brushless gearless direct drive type. It had quite a bit of torque, but far more resistance to pedaling with the power off due to the magnets. According to the dealer I bought it from it apparently had a bad controller built into the hub as the voltage from it was too low and the motor would only propel me at 14 mph top speed and that was only for a short time when the battery was fully charged. It ended up down around 12 mph once the battery power started dropping off. The motor was too large in diameter to properly fit in a 20 inch wheel. There was very little room left between the motor and the valve stem so removing the valve core and working with some tools/gauges was impaired and difficult. When I went to install my tire on the rim I found it most challenging and difficult. I had to resort to using tire levers to accomplish it. Once the tire was on the rim it would not easily center up concentric. I had a terrible time trying to get it centered and inflated. I have never had any of these issues with any other rims. When I went to install the wheel in the rear stays I discovered that the axle assembly was too wide and would not go in. (I had previously had 3 different BionX wheels and they all slipped into place quite easily.) I ended up having to spread my rear stays apart in order to get this Golden Motor wheel installed. I read that some of the e-bike wheels are made for a maximum of 7 cogs in the rear cassette. At 7 cogs they are suppose to be 135 mm. If one installs 8, 9 or 10 cogs the width increases and so the wheel won’t fit in a 135 mm space. Again, I didn’t have that problem with the BionX. Lastly, I noticed that the disconnect for the various wiring cables from the axle were far from the rear wheel meaning that when I needed to remove the rear wheel I would have to tear the wiring all apart to get to a place where I could disconnect it. That is ridiculous! It would involve cutting plastic cable ties, removing Velcro wraps, turning my trike over on its side in order to get at this wiring. With BionX and with my 3rd and current motor the disconnects are provided right near the rear wheel. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to repair a flat tire while out riding. It was a nightmare to work with it in a shop where I had all the tools I might need as well as a means of suspending my trike up in the air off of the floor. Overall I was not impressed with much of anything about this Golden Motor and could not recommend it to anyone.
The third and current hub motor conversion kit I bought and installed is an eZee 350 rpm. As far as I know that is the only identifying information to set it apart from their other motor offering which is a 250 rpm motor. The difference is the 350 rpm is designed for 20 inch wheels while the 250 rpm motors are designed for 26 inch, 700 and similar diameter wheels. The 350 rpm means that it can propel the smaller diameter wheels about the same speed as the 250 rpm motors propel the larger diameter wheels. Unlike the BionX and Golden Motor the eZee motor is geared which means it is suppose to have more torque at low speed but less top speed. That is what I have read. However, my experience is far different. I have found just the opposite to be true. This hub motor lacks the torque the BionX and Golden Motor had, but I have a far higher top speed. The physical size of this eZee hub motor is slightly smaller that the BionX unit. It only weighs about 8.34 pounds so it is much lighter than most hub motors. I am disappointed with its lack of torque for climbing hills. The other motors would “shoot me” up a hill while this eZee motor lacks the ability by itself to climb much of a grade without my pedaling to assist it. Never the less, I am enjoying it immensely and thus far have no regrets about buying it. I would recommend it to others.
I like the fact that I am no longer tied into a proprietary system like BionX. The battery I have now is a 20aH and it costs about 40% or less than what BionX was charging for their 11.6aH battery. With BionX being in bankruptcy I don’t know what the future holds for BionX customers. Right now they have shut down operations and let their 80 employees go. They are looking for an investor/new ownership. I wish them success as I would hate to see all their many customers left with a hub motor system with no support nor parts to keep them operating. I have a couple of friends who have BionX. At this point in time I am just glad I returned my BionX unit and got a full refund. I am not faced with this concern like my friends are. Perhaps someone will start rebuilding BionX batteries and selling them … if that is permitted. If only BionX could survive and get away from this proprietary nonsense which got them into this trouble.
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
Those who have followed my trek concerning electric motor pedal assist on my tadpole trike know about my experiences with BionX. After returning the 3 BionX hub motor and components for a full refund I ordered a Golden Motor Magic Pie Edge hub motor conversion kit. Right off the bat I experienced problems and regretting buying it. The rim was different than any other I have ever had and my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire was extremely difficult to mount on it. After getting it on the rim it was even more difficult to get it “concentric” on the rim. As difficult as it was to work with in a shop atmosphere I can’t imagine trying to change a flat tire while out riding. Then when I tried to install it on my trike the width was too wide to fit between my dropouts. All 3 of the BionX wheels I had went right into place like any other typical wheel. I didn’t want to, but I ended up spreading my rear stays to gain some width in order to get the wheel into place. Once I got it into place and hooked things up I test rode it and discovered that even though it had very good torque it only had a top speed of 14 mph … and that is only with a fully charged battery. It dropped off down into th 13 and 12 mph range within a couple of miles of riding. It should have been capable of at least 20 mph. It turned out that it had a faulty controller (which like BionX is built into the rear hub). The dealer would have sent me another controller that I would have had to install. That is not something I cared to get into. Then he offered to send me an entire new wheel assembly, but it would have been the same nightmare I ran into with the first one so I said no, I just want to return it for a refund. Unfortunately this dealer won’t refund the shipping charges either direction so I am out a good size chunk of money. I am not happy about it, but there is nothing I can do about it. I returned it and am waiting for a refund.
Another factor that helped me decide to return it was that there in no place near the rear wheel where the wiring can be disconnected if one needs to remove the rear wheel. I would have to cut a bunch of plastic cable ties and turn my trike over on its side in order to get at all the wiring tucked up underneath the seat to access the nearest plug connection to get it apart. That is ridiculous and I wanted no part of it.
Meanwhile I ordered yet another hub motor conversion kit. This time I ordered an eZee brand (http://www.ebikes.ca/shop/electric-bicycle-kits/ezee/ezee-rear-kit-advanced-pas.html). It is the 350 rpm version which is what the 20 inch wheel size requires so that the speed is about the same as a larger diameter wheel has. The 26 inch and larger diameter wheels use 250 rpm motors. According to what I have read about e-bike motors higher rpm is better than lower rpm. Up until now the 4 hub motors (3 BionX and 1 Golden Motor) were all direct drive (gearless), but this eZee is one with gears. It is slightly louder, but not all that bad. Upon installing it and trying it out in the street in front of my house it accelerated up to 27.5 mph. They only claim a top speed of about 20 mph so I was a happy camper to discover it goes faster. I took it out for a longer ride and so far I really like it. It doesn’t have the torque that the first BionX motor had nor the Golden Motor so I am a little disappointed in that regard, but overall I like it quite well. I expected the torque to be equal to or greater than the direct drive motors since it has a 1:5 gear reduction and the motor is rated at 1000 watts at 48 volts. I discovered that the top speed I obtained of 27.5 mph dwindles down as the voltage of the battery goes down. Only when I had voltage in the low 50s could I obtain the higher speed. As the voltage dropped down into the high 40s my speed fell off to about 25 mph where it stayed for quite some time. By the time my battery voltage fell off down into the mid 40s my top speed reduced down to about 23 mph. I am plenty satisfied with that.
Between this hub motor kit and the battery, battery charge and rear rack the battery mounts in the cost was less than $1800 and I am not locked into a proprietary system like BionX where they charge 2.5 to 3 times as much for a replacement battery as I can buy one for now. And I can get a far more powerful battery for less money. BionX doesn’t even offer such a battery.
As to the physical size of this eZee hub motor it is about the same as the 350 watt BionX hub motor. One thing I don’t care for with this eZee hub motor is that the wiring comes out of the end of the axle rather than out of the side plate of the hub motor like BionX and Golden Motor did. I think that is just plain stupid, but a lot of hub motors are made this way. In fact, most of them are.
Yes, I could have bought a cheaper hub motor kit, but I don’t think I would have been satisfied with it. I did a lot of research and reading about various hub motors before making my decisions. Unfortunately my choice of the Golden Motor turned out to be a bad choice and it was an expensive lesson. Now only time will tell if my last choice was a really good one. Right now I am a happy camper. I don’t yet have the torque sensor installed and working so I am only using the hand throttle. I am waiting on a new crankset to arrive as the torque sensor is the wrong spline size for my existing crankarms. Having to replace my perfectly good crankset is an additional expense I was not counting on, but if I want the torque sensor to work I have no choice. And I do want the torque sensor installed and working so it will be a true “pedal assist” unit.
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
HUB MOTOR VS MID DRIVE MOTOR … yes, the argument goes on. Some say Mid Drive is the only way to go while others say Hub Motors are the only way to go. Hey, they both go and like with most everything there is good and bad & pros and cons concerning each. HERE is a well written and informative article about the subject. I think I made the right decision. I like hub motors. Mid Drive just doesn’t appeal to me. They are hard on the drive train and if the drive trail fails while you are out riding you are done for as the motor can’t help you. With a hub motor you can still go on down the road/trail since it doesn’t rely on the drive train. My thinking and position lines up with the conclusion of this article and this company has worked with them both and speak from experience and hands on knowledge.
Although this following video (and nearly all others I have seen on this subject) is about bicycles it does a good job of covering the topic.
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
Anyone who has been following this blog knows I had a BionX hub motor system installed on my trike and that I experienced various problems with it that BionX never got resolved to my satisfaction. Consequently I requested a full refund and got it. Dispite the problems I experienced I really liked having the hub motor system on my trike and I really miss it now that I am without it. It has always been my intention to replace it with some other brand. I have spent a whole lot of hours researching to learn what is available in order to make a decision I am hopeful is the right one for me. I have listened to the counsel of others and considered the options.
I ruled out mid-drive systems as they just don’t appeal to me. If for no other reason I don’t like the idea of putting all the strain and wear and tear on my drive train. Also most mid-drive motors I have heard while watching videos of them were loud and I found that objectionable. I don’t like the idea of having a motor hanging on the end of my boom and I am not willing to give up two of my chain rings up front in order to have a motor placed there. I have 27 speeds and I want to keep them.
I like hub motors even though I know it makes dealing with a flat tire more complicated and difficult. But I usually run Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and don’t get flats so that isn’t much of a concern. There are two basic types of hub motors … brushless gearless and brushless geared. As with most things there are pros and cons to both. After much studying I made the decision I wanted to stick with the brushless gearless type which is what BionX is. Hub motors with gears inside of them require replacing the gears periodically as they wear out. I didn’t want to get into that. Also brushless geared hub motors are usually noticeably louder that the brushless gearless type. I like my motor to be quiet. I mean … I may want to sneak up on somebody. 🙂 Seriously, I just like keeping a low profile. I would rather not draw attention to myself and my trike by having it produce noise others hear. Besides it is both annoying and embarrassing.
In my research I found that it is extremely easy to find hub motor kits for 26 inch wheels (and larger). However, finding them for 20 inch wheels is somewhat challenging. The lead mechanic at a local bike shop was also looking for a hub motor system for me and said the same thing. He found it difficult finding a hub motor kit for a 20 inch wheel. But with a lot of time and perseverence I did find a few. Within these “few” I had to select one and that can be difficult. I read all I could about the different ones. Only a few of the few had much of anything written about them so that narrowed it down some as I didn’t want to go into this blindly.
There are various sizes of motors available. My BionX was 350 watts. I have seen 250, 350, 400, 500, 600, 750, 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000, 5000, 10000, 15000 and even higher. I am sure riding a trike with a large motor would be exhilirating. However, I am pretty sure I would end up wrapped around some tree or worse. Besides the larger the motor the more battery power it requires and uses. The bottom line is one only needs enough power to do the job. My 350 watt BionX motor was pretty decent power-wise so 500 watts should be about perfect and sensible. BTW, here in the U.S. the legal limit for road use is 750 watts. In Canada is it 500 watts and in Europe it is only 250 watts. (I sure am glad I don’t live in Europe.) 250 watts is ridiculous. That won’t even climb many hills.
Most of the hub motors have the wires coming out of the end of the axle. That absolutely turns me off so I didn’t consider any of them. I don’t like the idea of their vunerabilty of getting damaged. So with this criteria the candidates were narrowed down considerably.
I am not going to name brands here for fear of offending someone who happens to have one of those brands. I may or may not have something against any of them. I am not here to put any other brands down or to advise others what I think they should buy. I am only concerned about what I think will be the best choice for me.
After a lot of deliberation i chose the Golden Motor Canada Magic Pie Edge hub motor. It is not the cheapest by far, but it is still reasonably priced. I bought my battery, charger and rear rack for the battery seperately as Golden Motors didn’t have what I was looking for. The total cost for the hub motor kit with the extra options I selected was $781.50. The battery, charger and rear rack was $560.49. Altogether it comes to about $1350. The BionX system I just had was nearly $2500 so you can see there is quite a difference is cost. As I said earlier the BionX was a 350 watt motor. This new one is 500 watts. The BionX battery was only 11.6 aH (the largest they offer). This new one is 20aH. I have seen as high as 50aH. I based my decision on this 20aH battery on what I experienced with the 350 watt motor and the 11.6aH battery. The range I got out of that combination was not very impressive … only about 35 miles on a good day. In colder weather it drops way off. The replacement cost of the BionX battery is over a thousand dollars. I can replace this battery for less than $400 (at least that is what I see currently looking at batteries). I would probably opt to spend more however and get a lithium-polymer battery next time instead of lithium-ion. They are still far less money than the BionX battery costs and are a much more powerful and higher quality battery than the BionX battery. I wanted to get a lithium-polymer battery at this time, but I also wanted to hold the cost down so I opted for the lithium-ion.
One thing I want to address here is the matter of the pedal assist mode and torque sensing being built into the circuitry inside of the hub motor. BionX does this. It is great until something happens to it like what happened to mine. My pedal assist feature stopped working. Fortunately it was under warranty so BionX replaced the hub motor. Unfortunately the motor they sent to replace it was the wrong motor … much less power than the one I had that went bad. This new motor I ordered does not have pedal assist or torque sensing built into the circuitry inside of the hub motor. It is a seperate external component which costs about $145 or so extra as it is optional. At first I was upset about this, but after thinking it over I changed my tune. If something were to happen to the torque sensing unit and it quit working it is a far easeir repair (for me) than BionX repair would be. Warranties don’t last all that long and then we are on our own. Repairs are out of pocket at that point. I don’t know what BionX charges for a new printed circuit board, but I would much rather replace the external torque sensor than have to open up the hub motor and replace the printed circuit board inside.
Lastly, this new motor has a few features BionX doesn’t have. It offers a reverse feature so one can use the motor to back up. It can be programmed offering three different selections of the rider’s choice as to how much power the motor is delivering. Typically one programs it to have a low power choice, a medium power choice and a high power choice. These can be selected as one is riding. By law here in the U.S. an e-bike (e-trike) can’t go any faster than 20 mph on roads when being powered by the motor. It seems so silly when there are riders who can obtain 40 mph or so thru pedaling. Many motors are capable of propelling the bike/trike faster than 20 mph, but by law they must be limited to a top speed of 20 mph. With this motor being programmable one could choose full power as one of the 3 available selections. That would propel the cycle much faster than the 20 mph top speed allowed. I tell you what … I won’t tell if you won’t. 😉 I am sure there are many who would choose to have full power available as one of the selections. It not only would provide the highest top speed obtainable, but it would provide maximum acceleration and performance. Anyone up for a drag race? Am I getting too old for that?
By the way, the rim that came with the hub motor laced into it turned out to be a major problem when it came to mounting the tire on it. I use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and the rim was slightly larger in diameter making it nearly impossible to get the tire onto it. I had to use tire tools and even then it was difficult and this was while working out in the garage on a workbench. I can’t imagine trying to deal with it while out riding. I never have had to resort to using tire tools while mounting a tire on my Catrike rims. They have always gone on okay just using my hands.
Well, that’s my story thus far. It is all on order. And yes, I am very anxious to get it and get it installed and working. And then I hope to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I will keep readers updated. BTW, as stated, this is round two and hopefully it will be the final round.
Note – sadly it was not the last round. HERE you can read about round three.
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
For those on a tight budget here is an option available for a fairly reasonable price. One can also get the same trike without the FAT tires and wheels for a lesser amount. And, of course, one can also get the same trike without the electric motor system.
And Utah Trikes offers the same trike with a Bafang motor mounted on the end of the boom. This particular one is customized for the customer. It has dual cargo racks on the sides and dual batteries mounted underneath the cargo racks.
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It is said that “you get what you pay for”. That is usually true. I hope it isn’t the case when it comes to cheap trikes that come from China. They certainly offer some low prices. Of course, shipping isn’t cheap ($500 – $700) so the price increases considerably over the list price of the trike alone. The fairly well known website, aliexpress.com, has gobs of tadpole trikes listed for sale. Among them are electric pedal assist trikes. They come with either 250 watt or 500 watt Bafang brushless rear hub motors.
As you can see in the pictures the batteries are positioned up high under the rear rack. They are handy to get at there, but it also means that adding that weight at that height affects the center of gravity and handling suffers. The higher the center of gravity the easier a trike can tip over.
As to quality they do skimp on components using brands which are not among the more common names we usually see on trikes. So be aware that should the cheaper components fail sooner than later you might be laying out some money to buy better quality components. If that happens, then I would say that there was no real savings realized in buying these lower cost trikes. And the components may not perform to one’s liking in comparison to brand name components.
Their 250 watt model with no suspension (shown above) sells for $1,818.76 including shipping to the U.S.
Their 250 watt rear suspension model (shown above) sells for $1,818.76. That is the same price as the no suspension model. “Go figure” as they say.
Their 500 watt rear suspension model (shown above) sells for $2,265.76 which includes shipping to the U.S.
Delivery time to the U.S. is said to be 11 to 19 days.
Their trikes come with: high carbon steel frame, choice of 26 or 20 rear wheel, fenders, neck rest, rear rack, mirrors and a flag pole. They also come with a rear V-brake for parking which can be replaced with a disc brake if preferred. The mesh seat can be exchanged for a fiberglass seat.
They say they can custom make a trike if a customer is too heavy for their stock trike (which has a weight capacity of about 264 pounds). The same is true for customers who are too short or too tall for their standard trikes.
I would not care for the electronic digital display to be mounted vertically. That is quite impractical trying to view it. I am assuming that the battery pack has an integrated taillight of some sort although I have not read anything about it.
As to top speed and battery power endurance these trikes don’t measure up to some of the more expensive motorized trikes out there we normally read/hear about. They won’t go as fast nor as far using battery and motor power. They do have 5 levels of power including a button to push which will give full motor propulsion which does not require pedaling.
Being made of high carbon steel rather than chrome-moly steel or aluminum they will be heavier. One plus is that should there be frame breakage high carbon steel can be readily repair welded successfully by a qualified skilled weldor. Although high carbon steel offers more flexibility than aluminum is doesn’t flex as much as chrome-moly steel does.
They also sell kits to motorize trikes which, of course, is a much cheaper way to go if you already have a trike. Installing it would require considerable mechanical ability.
BTW, they also offer lots of tadpole trikes which are not motorized which are, of course, cheaper yet. And they offer at least one FAT tire trike which I will be writing about quite soon.
In closing I am going to throw this out for what it is worth. In my nearly 70 years of life on this earth and most all of those years involved in various sorts of mechanical things including a career as a weldor and metal fabricator since age 12 I have a lot of experience with metal objects. I have a lifetime of repairing them when they break. I would be very concerned about the quality of these trikes and probably would not spend my money on one myself. My gut feeling is that I would regret it and wish I would have just spent a bit more. Then I would know I bought quality and would have the assurance of a company and dealers who stand behind the products. Buying something from China pretty much leaves the buyer on their own should problems arise. Even if there is some support dealing with a company on the other side of the world doesn’t appeal to me.
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They say it is wise to let a sleeping dog lay. I am about to do something I hope I don’t regret. I am going to post an article below which is one I wrote and is posted on Steve Greene’s Trike Asylum blog. When I first wrote it it stirred up a hornet’s nest so to speak. I dared to express my opinion and it got me in trouble with some folks. Anyway, Steve Greene was kind and gracious in giving me his permission to post these articles I wrote for his blog on my blog. So here goes:
To Motorize or Not to Motorize, That is the Question
I am getting into something here which I will state upfront I am very opinionated about. I”M ‘AGIN’ IT! To my way of thinking motorizing any type of human powered vehicle is defeating the whole concept of the thing … exercise. I mean, come on … if you want a motorized open air vehicle buy a motorcycle for crying out loud. I rode them for over 50 years of my life until I finally decided I would give it up for strictly pedaling around. I was also riding a bicycle all those years so I still got some exercise … just not nearly as much as I do now.
I am sure that there are some folks who are not able to pedal to get around … perhaps can’t use their arms and hands to propel a vehicle either and so they may NEED something in the way of a motorized trike. But there are a whole lot of folks out there who are perfectly capable of pedaling who really don’t NEED to go this route.
That being said, I know it has become pretty popular. The man I sold my homemade tadpole trike to told me he planned on motorizing it. There is lots of information out there on the subject. And I am sure riding a motorized tadpole trike is a lot of fun even though it could lead to an added element of danger. And there may be some folks who just need help pedaling up hills as just maybe their bodies can’t deliver what it takes.
Obviously there are two main ways to go … electric motor or gas engine. Those who oppose gas engines because they “pollute” would no doubt only consider the electric motor route. But I AM STILL AGIN IT!
Here are some pictures of various setups:
KMX trike motorized
gas engine motorized trike
solar charging motorized trike
ecospeed motor on boom
And I say to ya’ll …
KEEP ON PEDALIN’
(We all need the exercise!)
By the way, one needs to be aware that there are trails where it is against the rules to ride a motorized bike or trike. Only motorized wheelchairs are permitted.
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