Blog Archives

GOING HEAVY DUTY IN THE WHEEL DEPT.

bought new front wheels from Catrike in 2018 to replace my original 2009 wheels that had gone the course. They were in bad shape. I was so thrilled to have new wheels on my trike but the thrill was short lived as the new wheels were in worse shape than my old ones in only about a month’s time. In fact, I have been using one of my old wheels for months now as it is in better condition than the newer one. The local streets and trails are in such bad shape that the bumps and holes are destroying my rims. My rear rim that came with my electric hub motor was also destroyed and had to be replaced. I bought a much heavier duty BMX rim to replace the rear rim. I am pleased to report that it has been holding up quite well. So now I am buying two more BMX rims and having my Catrike hubs laced into them. They are the Sun Ringle Envy (rear) rims and are black in color not white as pictured below.

 

They are considerably wider than the Catrike rims which gives them considerably more strength. Truthfully they probably are not what I would have selected as I like the extra structural pieces available in some other rims I have looked at. The picture below illustrates what I am talking about.

My local bike shop suggested these Envy rims to me and I trusted in their expertise. They assure me that they will be quite strong. Still I would be more comfortable with rims like the one I pictured above as I know they would be stronger.

I am also installing Schwalbe Big Ben Plus tires in place of my beloved Marathon Plus tires.

I am going with heavy duty inner tubes in the Big Ben Plus tires hoping that they will help in preventing flats … externally caused as well as internally caused. They are 5 times thicker than a standard inner tube. I used them once before but they are just too big and difficult to install in smaller sized tires, especially Marathon Plus which are more difficult to install than other tires.

I am still using baby powder inside of my tires and on my inner tubes. The Big Ben Plus do offer some flat protection but they are 40 % less effective than the Marathon Plus tires … meaning that I am concerned about getting flats. I am hoping all goes well and these balloon tires provide enough cushioning to ensure the new rims hold up okay.

I know I will miss certain factors about the Marathon Plus tires. Probably the biggest factor is the incredible mileage I get out of them. I know that these Big Ben Plus tires will wear out much quicker. That means that they will be more expensive to use. I understand that they are suppose to provide fairly decent rolling resistance performance so that is good. Of course, having e-assist helps eliminate some of the concern over this. I may only use them until they wear out and go back to Marathon Plus. I will just have to wait and see. Meanwhile I plan on …

ENJOYING THE RIDE.

FREE GIFT awaits you!

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VELTOP CANOPIES

Veltop canopies have been around for several years now. They are a product of France. Two models are currently offered for recumbent trikes …

the Sun Ride ($320.90) which is just a basic canopy.

and the Expedition ($581.51) which has extra protection added for rain and cold.

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WHICH TYPE OF BRAKE PAD SHOULD WE USE?

Brake pads on disc brakes wear out. Hey, they are suppose to. So what do you do when it comes time to change them? It can be a bit confusing. Organic (resin/semi metallic) and sintered (metal/metallic) are the choices. But which one should we choose? It is further complicated by the backing plate … steel, aluminum … even copper. Here is help …

So to summarize what was said in these videos … organic is okay for dry conditions. They are quieter but they also wear out quicker. Sintered if one is riding in wet conditions. They are noisier but they wear longer.

Having good working brakes is most important if we want to safely …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

CATRIKE E-CAT MAKING ITS DEBUT

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 …

FREE GIFT awaits you!

 

WHAT I THINK I KNOW ABOUT BATTERY CHARGING

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’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

LIGHTS … CHEAPER & BETTER … CAN’T BEAT THAT!

have had several different headlights and taillights over the years. I have liked all of them except one. I have always had what I considered bright and effective lights as far as “being seen” … which, of course, is what it is all about. This year I have had a new friend who bought a tadpole trike and we ride together sometimes. I could not help but notice his lights as they are quite bright … brighter than mine and I always thought my headlight was pretty bright and attention getting on flash mode. When I asked him about them he told me how cheap they are. I have been using lights which take AAA batteries. They are excellent lights and I am continuing to use them as back up. These lights my friend have are USB rechargeable. The light I had which I didn’t like was USB rechargeable and the battery didn’t last nearly long enough for my daily rides so I stopped using it. It was super bright for riding at night but it had a pulse mode instead of a flash mode. The pulse mode was about worthless. I ended up throwing it away recently as it stopped working … would no longer turn on at all. It was the most expensive headlight I have ever bought so I was not a happy camper nor was I impressed with its failure which happened all too soon. Anyway that is past history now. I bought two sets of these lights like my friend has. They are amazingly cheap … only $12.99 for the set on Amazon. They have a one year warranty which the company is quick to honor.

As you can see the taillight is rather small but don’t let that fool you. That thing is very bright. The headlight is 300 lumen which is not an extremely powerful light for night riding but in my opinion one doesn’t need anything more than this in the daytime. It has excellent lens optics so it is super bright. I have found that the lens optics in lights make all the difference. One can have more light from 300 lumens with high quality lens optics than another light with 1000 lumens has with poor quality lens optics. I wish I could demonstrate this light set to you as I am sure you would agree and be very impressed.

It is said to last about 7.5 hours on flash mode and that is what I have been experiencing. Amazon shows 12 plus hours but the manufacturer’s website has 7.5 hours. The taillights are suppose to last about 5 hours on flash mode which is what I have been experiencing. My friend says that his last about 7 hours but I am skeptical of that.

For those in need of lights I recommend these. They get the job done and one certainly can’t complain about the price. For daytime riding they are superb … like I said … they are all that is needed. I don’t ride at night normally so I can’t comment about how well the headlight is for night time riding. Certainly with only 1.5 hours battery life on full steady on power mode it isn’t going to be a very long ride. Hey, at only $12.99 get at least two sets and have twice the brightness out there for night riding.

Here is what is shown on Amazon about this light set: 

  • Micro USB rechargeable bike front light & tail light set – USB cord and a power source to recharge (computer, laptop or a cellphone Charger)
  • 300 Lumen headlight with 3 light modes: Run time steady (1.6 hrs) – 1/2 steady (3+ hrs.)- flash (12+ hrs.). compact rear taillight with 3 modes – Run time steady (1.5 hrs.) – 1/2 steady (2+ hrs.)- flash (5+ hrs.), with side visibility
  • Quick release – taillights: rubber straps attach and detach from bike easily without tools. Headlights: quick release mount allows headlight to removed from mount and used as a flashlight/ safety lights or for emergencies
  • Durable & water resistant – solid construction and water resistant IP44 rating ensures the light will stand up to the elements
  • 100% SATISFACTION : This product is covered by BV USA . We are so confident you will love this product that we offer 30 days money back with 1 year free replacement 

 

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FREE GIFT awaits you!

DO YOU LUBE YOUR TIRES & TUBES?

Yes, you read right. I asked “do you lube your tires & tubes?” Now I am not talking about using oil or grease. I am talking about using talcum powder (corn starch) … ie … baby powder. I don’t know about you but I hate getting flat tires. I would much rather be riding my trike than working on it. I used to get a lot of flats. I remedied that by using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. However, that only eliminated those flats which were externally caused. I still occasionally got internally caused flats.

I don’t remember how I learned of using corn starch baby powder inside my tires and on my inner tubes but I tell ya it works … at least for me. I can’t remember the last time I had an internal flat. Well, actually I can as it was fairly recently. I learned a valuable lesson which I will write about in the next paragraph.

One thing I learned … make sure there is no moisture around inside of the tire or on the inner tube as that will cause the powder to clump together and become an abrasive which will cause an internal flat.

Yep, I always liberally apply  it inside of my tires and use my fingers to spread it all over coating all of the inside. I do the same with the inner tube. It can be a bit messy but it is well worth it.

What does the baby powder do you ask? That is a fair enough question. Have you ever taken an inner tube out of a tire and had it stick to the tire requiring extra pull to get it loose? Have you seen the imprint on an inner tube from being pressed against something inside of the tire? On a trike turning a corner involves placing lateral (sideways) force on the wheels since the trike does not lean like a bicycle does. Those lateral forces work the tire on the rim … like taking your hand and pulling and pushing the tire from side to side on the rim. With that tire movement the inner tube inside is also effected. There is friction taking place and in time it can cause a hole to form in the inner tube. The baby powder helps to eliminate all of these things I have mentioned. The rubber surfaces are lubricated by the powder.

Like I said, it works for me and I highly recommend it. It will help you …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?

 

Early this morning while meeting up with some friends to ride together when I first arrived at the trailhead parking lot my one friend said to me that he saw me riding across the bridge which is about 3/8 of a mile away. He saw my florescent yellow and florescent orange safety flags. I have stressed over and over thru the years about the importance of good safety flags and bright flashing lights front and rear. We need to be seen! All too many trikers ride around with flags that just don’t do the job. Some of them are difficult to see when up close much less some distance away. I put some images together to give you an idea of how far away I was from my friend when he saw me. The first picture is of the bridge I was crossing at the time. The second picture if a satellite image of the area showing where he was (red X) and where I was (red arrow). The third picture was taken from the parking lot where he was looking to the bridge where I was.

I think that is pretty incredible for him to see me from that distance. Of course, all he saw was my flags. He could not actually see me.

I have had a few people locally make the exact same flags that I have. They have done so because they have seen for themselves how effective they are. A few years ago I was riding on a local trail which is “rural” away from the city. It follows a river so it meanders around a bit. There is lots of vegetation on both sides of the trail (trees, bushes, weeds, etc.) so most of the time one can’t see very far ahead. As I was riding along I saw something up ahead of me which caught my eye. I only saw it for a second or two. It was a very long ways ahead of me. I would guess it was about 3/4ths of a mile the first time I noticed it. I assumed it was a flashing yellow light on some sort of maintenance vehicle. I kept riding closing the distance and every once in awhile caught another glimpse of this “flash” of bright light thru very small gaps in the vegetative covering. I kept going getting closer and closer until finally I was able to see the source ahead of me. I was quite surprised and even more impressed when I discovered what I was seeing was two tadpole trikes being ridden by a man and wife couple whom I knew. They were flying flags just like mine … some of the ones who liked my flags so much that they copied them. Amazing! I saw at least one of them some 3/4 of a mile away in heavy vegetative cover.

I encourage every trike rider to take this matter seriously. Your very life may very well depend on it.

You can read more about my safety flags HERE with instructions on how to make them.

Be safe out there ,  KEEP ON TRIKIN’  and ENJOY THE RIDE!

FREE GIFT awaits you!

THE LANE SAVER

A new safety product is coming out which may be of interest to some riders, especially if they ride on streets and roads. It is called The Lane Saver. It’s purpose is to help keep motor vehicle traffic a safe distance away from the cyclist.

HERE is their website.

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FREE GIFT awaits you!

ARE YOU PHONY?

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!

FREE GIFT awaits you!

DANGER DANGER DANGER … CROSSING ANGLED RAILROAD TRACKS

I learned as a child as I am sure many of us did that one must be careful crossing railroad tracks that intersect the road on an angle. The more of an angle the more dangerous the situation is. This is especially true for a bicycle than it is for a tadpole trike yet even a tadpole trike can be susceptible to the possibility of a wheel going down into the tracks and causing a wreck. It is always safest for a narrow width wheel vehicle to cross over railroad tracks at as close to a perpendicular (90 degree) angle as possible.

This is to prevent a wheel from getting caught in the railroad tracks and causing a wreck. Depending upon the width of the road the rider may have to ride over into the oncoming traffic lane to make this maneuver so be sure the way is clear ahead and behind.

Although the video below is about bicycles it illustrates what I am talking about including a wheel getting caught and causing a wreck. Fortunately the rider saved the situation and managed to avoid going completely down.

As a child I learned what can happen. I had the same experience as the bicyclist in the picture above did. Fortunately I didn’t get injured but it taught me how important it is to cross tracks safely. I might mention that the worse the pavement is at the train tracks the more dangerous the crossing is. Be safe out there so that you can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

FROM ME TO YOU … HAPPY 4TH

FREE GIFT awaits you!

NASHBAR RAGSTER SANDALS … THEY’RE BACK!

There is good news for those who have been looking for the popular Nashbar Ragster sandals. They are once again being offered by BikeNasbar.com on their website. That being said I noticed that on both Amazon and Ebay they are still showing either “sold out” or “not available”.

The Ragster sandal is a lower cost sandal which is a good quality product. It is a SPD cycling footwear. They are definitely much more affordable than the well known and popular Shimano and Keen brands.

Right now the price is about $50 which they show is a sale price as their list price is about $56. When I bought mine a few years ago I got them on sale for about $35. I don’t know if such sales will be appearing in the future. We can only hope so. At least they are back available again and that is good news. BTW, HERE is a conversion chart to help with the shoe sizes.

HERE is a good article on cycling sandals.

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A FREE GIFT awaits you!

 

MY NEW CANOPY

For many years I have wanted a canopy on my trike. However I could never afford one and although I can fabricate everything I lack the sewing skills and equipment needed to make the material part of it. I mean … the frame isn’t going to do me much good without the material over it. Those small diameter poles/rods just don’t provide much shade. 😉

Recently a posting on Facebook Recumbent Trikes Group showed a kayak canopy installed on a tadpole trike. It looked pretty good and the price … well, let’s just say it is affordable … like $56 with free shipping from Amazon. With another $15 for various hardware type items I had a canopy for a total of about $71. BTW, after buying mine thru Amazon for $56 I found it for only $36 on Ebay. That is par for the course. Right now as I compose this the price on Ebay is higher than $36 as it seems to fluctuate. Even so Ebay offers it for less than Amazon.

As you can see I selected the safety orange which, of course, adds even more to safety as I ride as it really stands out.

I have seen other canopies on tadpole trikes and watched them bob around every which way. I am pleased to report that this kayak canopy is very stable. I have had it up to 28 mph in 16 mph winds and it was rock solid. I am very pleased with it. (And I have been out in even stronger winds since I first wrote this. It did great!) And it is larger than most trike canopies so it offers a little bit more protection. It measures 2 foot wide by 4 foot long and the rear vertical part comes down 7.5 inches. I didn’t know if I would like the rounded front end as all the canopies I have ever seen are rectangular.

The material is some sort of nylon (I think) and it is made like a sleeve (pillowcase) which simply slides over the frame. The frame is aluminum tubing like modern day tent poles … sections which fit together and have an elastic cord inside of them connecting them all together. Being aluminum tubing rather than fiberglass rods they don’t flex nearly as much which is what makes the canopy so stable. I shortened the height of the canopy by 7.5 inches to get it closer to my head so that it offers increased protection. I had to add the arched support piece to hold the canopy up higher in the back so it is away from my head. Once I get up to 8 mph the air moving against the material will raise it up and back and keep it off of me but I didn’t like it touching me when I slow down or stop so I added the support piece to eliminate the problem.

I added an additional support to raise the canopy up higher right above my head. That way I can have the canopy down as low as practical to provide maximum shade and protection.

There is plenty of “spring” in the aluminum tubing so that when the front is not hooked down into riding position it raises way up out of the way making it easy to get on and off of the trike.

I first mounted it using plastic cable ties just to get an idea what it would look like as well as help me figure out what I needed to do to come up with a proper mounting system. It was a fairly easy task and what I came up with works great. I used two 15 inch long pieces of 1/2 PVC pipe with caps on the bottom so the canopy tubes can’t go past the bottom end of the PVC pipe.

With this setup it is very quick and easy to install and remove the canopy from the trike. It takes about the same amount of time as it does to put my two safety flags in their holders. Again, I could not be more pleased with the way this all works.

Here is my view with the canopy in place …

As you can see I have a V tie down which I prefer over the single tie down in the center of the front. The V is more stable than a single cord in the center and it eliminates having to look thru a single tie down in front. It fastens down to the front derailleur post. I removed the plastic plug in the post and replaced it with a rubber pipe plug. I used a 5/16 eye bolt in a rubber pipe plug replacing the 5/16 inch bolt which came in the rubber plug.

And here is the front view …

And here is the rear view. As you can see I have complete protection from the sun on my backside which is really nice. Much to my surprise and delight it does not cut off the air flow any appreciable amount.

 

Here is a closeup view of the mounting area …

I already had some of the clamps used to mount the PVC pipe on the top end to the seat frame.

I bought these others shown in the picture below. I got 5/8 inch for the PVC pipe and 1 inch for the trike frame  (rear stays) at the bottom of the PVC pipe.

The bottom line is … At this point I am a happy camper with this canopy setup.

I may try tinkering with it … adding something onto the sides to help provide more shade. But for now for a fairly low cost I have a very functional canopy and my plan is to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

If you are interested I have written other articles about canopies previously.

FREE GIFT awaits you!

 

 

ELECTRIC BIKE OUTFITTERS

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!

FREE GIFT awaits you!

 

E-ASSIST … A LOOK AT WHAT ALL IS AVAILABLE

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 anotherHERE 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’

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eZee NOW – 3rd TIME IS A CHARM (ELECTRIC MOTOR ASSIST)

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.

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HUB MOTOR VS CRANK DRIVE MOTOR

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.

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ELECTRIC HUB MOTOR SYSTEM … ROUND TWO

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.

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SUNSEEKER FAT TAD ELECTRIC TADPOLE TRIKE

 

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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