Category Archives: motorized trikes
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!
BionX motors, batteries and parts are still available. This company bought out the remaining stock from BionX and is selling it online. Currently batteries are only being shipped to Canada and the United States. Everything else they will ship worldwide … https://www.bx-legacy.com/
I received an email from Hector Alberto who is from Australia and is a reader of this blog. He sent links to some YouTube videos of the tadpole trike and quad he has built. I am sharing them here for the world to see.
trike & quad ride on trails:
quad ride to park:
I wrote back to Hector asking him if he would send some pictures and share anything about his homemade trike and quad he cared to. Here is his reply:
The trike frame Is made of aluminium and lots of bolts.
For the steering system I’ve used the cheap 17mm ATV stub axle found on eBay and its respective end rod bolts (I was trying to understand how steering works in real).
I want to mention that with those pieces it was easy to make adjustments about angles related with the Ackerman law.
I used 20” BMX front plastic wheels. The original axle and bearings have been replaced by high rpm bearings to fit on the ATV stub axle.
The handlebars were attached using a 90 degree metal bracket between the stub axle and the handlebars. In general the trike use to work fine, but eventually the brake system mounted on the aluminium frame just fell apart.
Front sprocket 42t, freewheel 3 speeds
This picture shows the quad frame standing up when I was painting it.
I decided to go with a quad in order to help my wife bring our son along with her. The Quad measurements are 185cm long X 85cm wide. Yes, it is really a compact size when one takes into consideration that there are two people travelling on it. It has a COASTER BRAKE in the left rear wheel and the right rear wheel has an electric hub motor and a 160mm disc brake system. The quad is single speed. It has no front wheel brakes.
The trike conversion kits are so expensive in Australia, so I’ve been hunting for a used one. I got one old tricycle for Au$40. It came with one wheel traction (left one). Once I cut off the back part of the tricycle I went to a friend who welded it as I required. It includes a bottom bracket shell (found it as well on eBay).
The quad frame is using the same steering system as the trike.
The electric hub motor wheel is a 250w 36v “front wheel” for bicycles. It is mounted in the rear right side of the quad. This configuration allows the use either of the rear wheel power drives individually. When the rear wheel with pedal power loses traction you can put extra power in the electric hub motor wheel just by using the manual throttle as needed.
The average travel speed 15-20km/hr. Max speed tested with 98kg aprox., 27km/hr. Realistically, this is not a fast machine but it works excellent for the purpose; plus, my wife and my son love it.
I hope this help others to improve their designs.
E-motor assist trikes are becoming more and more popular. I have one myself and love it. One thing I have noticed is that there seems to be a lot of confusion and differing thoughts, beliefs, uncertainties and opinions about the legal aspect of these machines. Obviously not everybody can be correct when so often these conflict. Here is help in sorting it all out. To summarize the subject matter … “it’s a mess” and that is fairly typical of most everything the government gets involved in.
HERE is a website which has information on e-bikes according to individual State laws. This applies to both pedal assist and motor assist.
HERE is another website which has information on the laws on e-bikes. I like this one as it seems a bit more “user-friendly” the way it is written.
HERE is a .pdf report on e-bike laws.
One thing I noticed is that some States require a helmet be worn when riding an e-bike. I am not a fan of the government forcing people to wear helmets. I think it should be a personal choice which the government should keep their nose out of. It is not a matter of whether or not I believe in helmets. It is solely a matter of too much government control in our lives.
Whether you ride with or without e-assist I hope you continue to …
ENJOY THE RIDE!
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’
Here is a lengthly article on the history of BionX which I found to be quite informative and an interesting read. It will interesting to see if BionX makes some sort of a comeback. I am sure lots of BionX owners would love to see that happen. Among the information found here is how to reprogram the software to allow the motor to provide more speed. That being said I think a person would have to be pretty tech savvy to understand all of this and do reprogramming. Reading thru it I found it over my head.
I have read and heard various things concerning BionX. Mostly I have heard that they are out of business even though their website was fully functional as far as I know the last time I checked it. However it only looks like it is functional. I checked it just now and found that it is quite deceiving. When I clicked on Finding a Dealer and then clicked on Dealer Map the page would not open. It gave the message “This site can’t be reached”. Wanting to know the truth I made a phone call a few minutes ago. I called and talked to the owner of the BionX dealer I and a couple of my friends were dealing with. I asked him about the status of BionX. He said that they are most definitely totally out of business and will never come back. So those who have a BionX system are out of luck if anything goes wrong with their systems … at least as faras gettng any help from BionX. No parts are available. Batteries are not even available. That is certainly not good news for BionX owners. I understand that there is one or more companies around which have some parts and batteries. And I would not be surprised if more businesses pop up offering some help in the battery dept. even if it is rebuilding one’s current battery. I sure am glad I made the decision to return my BionX system for a full refund when I did. I am really happy with my eZee hub motor system. HERE is an informative article about BionX.
BionX motors, batteries and parts are still available . This company bought out the remaining stock from BionX and is selling it online. Currently batteries are only being shipped to Canada and the United States. Everything else they will ship worldwide … https://www.bx-legacy.com/
Those who have been following my e-bike motor adventures know that I am on my 5th electric hub motor and have had 3 brands thus far. With various problems in the past I finally have one I am very pleased with thus far. It is an eZee motor I purchased from Grin Technologies of Vancouver, B.C., Canada. It is wickedly fast compared to the other hub motors I have had thus far. I am 71 years old now, but when I ride my trike I am truly enjoying the faster speeds I can obtain now with the help of this motor. And the exercise I am getting has increased as it encourages and helps me to pedal at a faster cadence considerably. It is like being a kid again.
It is the start of Memorial Day weekend and that means one major thing here in Indiana …the “Indy 500 race”. So with that in mind I offer the following … 🙂
A friend I was riding with is also 71 like me. His trike has a BionX hub motor like I used to have although his works right thus far. I asked him if he wanted to race. I am talking about a drag race from a rolling start using the hand throttles and motors power only. He agreed. I figured he would be able to accelerate away from me at first … which he did … as I outweigh him by about 100 pounds so that gives him a huge advantage over me. He was only able to take the lead for a few feet however as I started gaining on him and quickly over took him shooting way out in front of him by a couple hundred feet or so like he had given up. I slowed back up letting him catch up to me. I then asked him if he was still under full acceleration or if he had let off the throttle. He said he never let off of the throttle until I was way out in front of him and he saw how badly I beat him. Ah yes, drag racing at 71 … gotta love it! Hey, I may have to look into installing a drag chute … 😉
Yep, I am …
ENJOYING THE RIDE!
I am not sure what is going on with Bionx since they went into “receivership” Feb. 27th. I know that their website was more less unavailable (non-functioning) following that news. There doesn’t seem to be much of anything available online to read about it. I was just checking out the BionX website and see that it is back up and functioning with no mention of their recent woes. If I hear anything more I will share it here.
update — One reader of this blog reports in a comment that he heard that BionX has been bought out from receivership and is indeed back in business. Sadly, the dealer nearest me has not heard anything out of BionX since all this started.. I have emailed BionX asking them what their current status is, but they haven’t emailed me back yet. It will be interesting to see if the new ownership does anything about the propietary structuring of BionX. I sure hope they make some needed changes.
For those in need of BionX motors, batteries and parts — BionX motors, batteries and parts are still available . This company bought out the remaining stock from BionX and is selling it online. Currently batteries are only being shipped to Canada and the United States. Everything else they will ship worldwide … https://www.bx-legacy.com/
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.
I rather imagine some of the readers of this blog are wondering what all is going on as far as my not posting much on it anymore. I had mentioned previously that I just feel more less drained and in need of getting away from it. That is quite true, but there is another factor which weighs in and all by itself has put the brakes on. My vision has become quite poor and so it is quite difficult for me to do much work at the computer. I had a stroke occur in my only good eye and it has really dealt me a blow. Previously many years ago I had a stroke occur in my left eye which left me legally blind in the left eye. There was no medical treatment for this at that time. A few years later there was so when it happened to my right eye I have been getting treatment since. That being said, things have not been going well and slowly it has worsened. Spending much time at a computer is hard on good eyes, but it is even harder on bad eyes.
As many of you know I also had a Facebook Group called Tadpole Rider Group. I was more less consumed by it spending most of my life involved with it. It was totally out of control and was really taking its toll on me. I had to make the hard choice to close it. Unfortunately something went very wrong and it didn’t totally get deleted. I spent many hours painstakingly going thru all that Facebook required to close it only to have some fluke take place and leave it up to be seen (what there is left of it). I can’t do anything about it as I don’t have access to any of it any more. It is just in limbo … stuck right where it is at appearing just as it does. I have attempted to get Facebook to delete it, but that is a near impossibility … trying to contact Facebook that is. Everything I have tried has been in vain. In short, Facebook is really one screwed up entity.
I still have the desire from time to time to post something more here on this blog, but I find it just too challenging most of the time to even attempt it. I don’t know what the future holds as far as my eyesight. I don’t know if it will get better, stay the same or get worse. There is a posting I want to do right now, but I don’t know if I will be able to. Time will tell. Again, I want to thank all the loyal readers of this blog. I am sorry things have come to this. It has been a drastic life change for me and is something I struggle with to accept and deal with.
At least for now I am still able to ride my trike. Spring arrived yesterday on the calendar anyway. I am hoping the weather shapes up soon and indicates it is aware of it.
Here is a rather poor quality image of my trike with the eZee hub motor conversion kit installed.
I am really enjoying it although I am a bit disappointed with the amount of torque it has. It is a geared type motor which is suppose to be more torquie than direct drive gearless motors. However, it doesn’t seem to have as much torque as the direct drive motors I have had. Never the less I am liking it quite well thus far and have no regrets about buying it as of yet. It is rated at 1000 watts while the BionX motors I had were reated at 350 watts. The first BionX motor I had definitely had more hill climbing ability than this eZee motor has. It would shoot me up a hill just by itself while this motor only assists my pedaling and would do rather poorly on a steep hill or a long incline.
Well, that is my story and I seem to be stuck with it … at least fo rnow.
Attention ; BionX motors, batteries and parts are still available . This company bought out the remaining stock from BionX and is selling it online. Currently batteries are only being shipped to Canada and the United States. Everything else they will ship worldwide … https://www.bx-legacy.com/
On February 27th the Canadian hub motor manufacturer BionX filed bankruptcy. In taking this action they did not say anything to their dealers. The overall picture is looking pretty bleak. It is possible that they are attempting to “reorganize” and salvage their business. However, with the problems they have my guess is that this is unlikely. I reckon we will just have to wait and see what happens.
Because BionX chose to design and manufacture their system proprietary and charge way too much for it … especially the replacement batteries … they cooked their own goose. I would think that the only way they could possibly save themselves now would involve changing all this so that they are competitive in the marketplace and attractive to customers. That would be a huge undertaking.
I read that some dealers who are trying to sell BionX items they have in stock at discounted pricing in an attempt to get rid of them before they get stuck with them. It is my understanding that BionX is not selling anything from their website. They probably are not allowed to under the bankruptcy laws. Mind you I know nothing about bankruptcy laws and procedures.
This does not look good for those who have a BionX hub motor system as it is likely that they will not be able to obtain any repair parts or batteries. They will be stuck with a system that is dead in the water leaving them dead alongside of the road or trail. I am so thankful now that I returned my BionX system for a refund. I have a couple of friends who have BionX installed on their trikes. I feel for them if all this comes to pass.
I have more less painted a gloomy picture for BionX and BionX customers … BUT … hey, who knows … they may pull out of this and survive. I am sure lots of folks would be happy if that happens. The truth is I don’t know what all is going on so anything I am saying here is pure speculation and may turn out altogether different than it is appearing at this time.
Below are some links to websites where you can read about this.
And HERE is the official announcement:
“On February 27, 2018, Grant Thornton Limited was appointed as receiver and manager (in such capacities, the “Receiver”) of the assets, undertakings, and property of Bionx Canada Inc.”
For what it is worth I would like to see BionX stick around as they have a nice product. They do need to do away with the proprietary approach to business however and lower some of their pricing … especially on the replacement batteries.
I went for a ride today on one of our local trails. I thoroughly enjoyed my ride thanks to the hub motor. What a difference it makes! Some say (and argue) that you don’t get as much exercise with a motor, but I say nonsense. I am fully convinced I get far more exercise using a motor. It encourages me to pedal faster and work harder to maintain the higher speed I find that there is a night and day difference when I ride using a motor to assist me. That is the key … to assist. It is all too easy to let the motor do all the work and there are those who do this. I try to keep pedaling most of the time while I am out riding. One thing I have noticed is that thanks to now having a geared hub motor with no resistance when there is no power going to it rather than a gearless direct drive like I had previously which has considerable resistance my trike really rolls good maintaining a good amount of the speed I obtained with the aid of the motor (or without it for that matter). And that makes it easier and encourages me to keep pedaling trying to maintain that higher speed … far higher than I go without the aid of the motor. I is just a whole lot more enjoybale riding going so much faster than I can go without the motor. In my opinion it is a “win-win” situation. I am loving it.
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. Unfortuately 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 dicide 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 viersion 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 alll 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 sloine size for my existing crankarms. Having to replace my perrfectly 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 sensorr installed and working so it will be a true “pedal assist” unit.
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.
This is an interesting trike. I have a hard time understanding some of this man’s English, but the trike is pretty neat. If nothing else, seeing how he has mounted the skis on the front wheels might give others an idea of how put skis on their trikes, myself included. I have thought about it.
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?
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.
If you can handle the weather this looks like it would be fun …
Utah Trikes is known for their customization services. Here is one of their projects. With 1600 watts there is plenty of power. Along with all that power is plenty of noise … something I find quite objectionable. I guess it doesn’t bother some people.