Electric Bike Conversion Basics.

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Electric Bike Conversion Basics.

Post by mgb327 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:06 am

I drive a 1972 Columbia 3-speed rear hub trike. Been to the Playa 7 times with no issues, good cleaning/lubrication after is the key. This year I want to install a 26" front wheel drive brushless electric hub motor. I have done some research and have too much info now, what is the basic recommendation? 500 watts, 36 volts, Ion battery (10ah or better) looks like the average. I know a lot of you have them and love them, what might be the basic set-up I can simply order online and install? I am a mechanical person, so install is easy to me. Trying to stay under $700. Thanks.....
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Re: Electric Bike Conversion Basics.

Post by lucky420 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:31 am

I ordered mine from Worksman but that’s where I got my trike from too. Also checkout ebikekit.com I’ve bought controllers from them too

I am not affiliated with either
Oh my god, it's HUGE!

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Re: Electric Bike Conversion Basics.

Post by Luigi » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:49 am

I am also interested in this for my old schwinn, which I have put a three speed rear hub on. Would like to leave the bike as is and do the front drive. Hope to do it myself on a budget, so please send some info our way.
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Re: Electric Bike Conversion Basics.

Post by arthur02 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:35 pm

lucky420 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:31 am
I ordered mine from Worksman but that’s where I got my trike from too. Also checkout ebikekit.com I’ve bought controllers from them too

I am not affiliated with either
Looks like they got good stuff. We'll just finish installing the new rack and tonneau covers we got from 4WheelOnline for the truck and we'll make ebike project.

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Re: Electric Bike Conversion Basics.

Post by Molotov » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:00 am

I'm almost 64 now and a little lame, so I got the top of the line trike kit from e-bikes a few years ago. They are costing right at $1000 now. It comes with a wheel and hub assembly, li-ion battery, 110 volt charger, and all the control components.. Since my trike is now primarily front wheel drive, I replaced the street tread front tire with a knobby tread tire. The street tire would just spin in playa dust, where the knobby tire powers on through. It has reverse gear, but it's pretty weak.

My trike has been to 3 burns with no problems. I just wipe/wash everything down when I get back. Not that you would be allowed to in BRC, but it will run almost 22 mph on pavement. It is very comfortable at a sedate 5 mph on the playa and you can run all day on a full charge of the 36 volt battery. Of course you have the normal pedals for slow speed or to limp home. The handlebar mount control panel has a speedometer/odometer which helps you stay at a reasonable speed and avoid any imperial entanglements,

BTW...fixing a flat on the front tire of my electric trike is a major PITA. You have to undo the anti-torque arm and unplug the power cable from the hub, as well as loosening the usual nuts, to take the wheel off. Slime lined and thorn resistant tubes are a good investment. My knobby tire is kevlar based, but it still didn't stop a cactus thorn I picked up in Arizona.

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Re: Electric Bike Conversion Basics.

Post by Drizzt321 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:38 pm

I've done several iterations on an e-bike (basically same thing with front hub motor).

One, you will want a torque arm, as Molotov alludes to. A torque arm helps keep the hub from damaging/spinning in the dropouts (what the front wheel is hooked too). Most front dropouts don't anticipate a lot of torque, so a torque arm is definitely important for a front hub.

Two, you'll need a generator/something to recharge from. Unless you have a massive battery and use it sparingly, you will use up the battery. A 10Ah lithium battery is decent. Make sure it's a full battery with a battery management system (BMS) board on it, so when you've used up too much power it'll cut off rather than drain further and hurt the battery. Unless you know what you're doing, DON'T use the "hobby RC" lithium batteries.

Along with that, lithium batteries really don't like to be too hot. You CAN run them OK on the Playa, I've done so the last few years, but especially during the day don't stress them by hitting the throttle full power much.

Light, yes, you will still need lights. Get creative. You can buy a spare battery, possibly a 12v SLA battery, for your lights. Yay!

In terms of size, 500W 36v or 48v should be plenty. Unless you're hauling crazy amounts of stuff, it'll be all good. Even hauling a hundred pounds of ice on the back (if you can fit it all) you should be fine, just stay slow and stand on the pedals to help provide torque to get started.

As has been said, keep it fairly slow. Not need to rush, but it's great late at night when all you want to do is get home and it seems like no matter what direction you go in the wind is against you :)

Not all kits will have a display/speedometer. You can potentially add that separately, realistically you can just use your common sense. Plenty of people pedal 15+ mph. Don't put the throttle at 100%, keep your eyes open, slow down in poor visibility/at night.

Brake cut-offs are a safety must. If your kit doesn't include them, don't buy it. There's a couple of possible implementations, some of which includes changing out the brake levers, some which are add-on which if you set them up properly will work fine. These are important because they turn off the motor as soon as you start to brake. It's BAD if you start to brake, and the motor keeps going, can cause big problems.

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Re: Electric Bike Conversion Basics.

Post by Meat Hunter » Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:55 pm

On my new (2013) Schwinn trike I went 100% turn-key e-bikekit.com.

Be sitting down when you see the turn-key price for a complete kit. In my opinion, when it comes to these electric drive kits, you pretty much get what you pay for.

After 5 burns, my e-bike kit still runs as well as it did in 2013 when it was new.

Because I way out at the camp at the airport and having an electric drive lends itself to more miles per day. I purchased a 2nd battery and charger.

Several times late at night or early in the morning I have run out of juice in my #1 battery and was very glad that I had the 2nd battery.

I average 20-35 miles per battery charge. It is not uncommon for me to put 30+ miles a day on my trike.

I have usually been on the playa for 3 weeks and at age 74, not having and electric trike would keep me at home.
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