100% custom e-trike build!


New Member
Greetings all!
Like the title says, I have a completely custom e-trike build in process. I hope to get as much advice as possible in hopes to mitigate any issues later on down the road.

So let's get up to speed! Haha! Get it? "Up to speed"... E-bike... terrible joke :rolleyes:... moving on.

I'll start by stating that this is a build for my Burning Man transportation while in the desert, so consideration for extremely invasive dust and harsh elements should be noted. I currently have a "rideable" trike custom built from 4 different bike frames. They've been "Frankensteined" together in order to accommodate 1 main rider and 2 passengers. Currently the entire drive train is connected so each occupant can pedal and provide assistance as we bike along. The down side is that the trike itself is quite heavy, so when I ride solo it takes an EXTREME amount of energy just to go around the block, and I'm in fairly good shape. The trike will be covered in lights and incorporate two 30' poles that will have strip lighting twisting up them (think barber shop pole), consequently a power source will need to be attached. On the back, it will also be carrying a loaded ice chest around the playa throughout the day. That, along with all the usual "accessories" required to play in the desert for at least a week and I'll approximately be carrying an additional 50-100lbs around with me at all times while riding solo, and 250-400 with passengers while I cover 5-15 miles per day. Hence the need to convert it to an E-Trike. With all the additional weight noted above, I fully expect to start riding by pedaling to get up to a moderate speed before implementing the electric drive, thus limiting the strain on both the motor and battery pack.
A few things I'm aware of already are:
1. Maneuvering the trike while riding solo at speed can be quite dangerous if I don't exercise extreme caution.
2. Stability and handling increases tremendously with the additional weight of just a single passenger.
3. Steering is... well... just weird until you get the hang of it, it's nothing like a traditional bicycle. I wonder if this is inherent to trikes or if the steering geometry is off?
4. Braking: An upgrade is mandatory as the coaster brakes struggle to stop just my weight on the trike now. Disk or Rim brakes?
5. The power source for the lights will be independent of the battery source for the drive kit.

I'm leaning toward a front wheel kit purely due its simplicity. However I'm not sure that would be the most efficient rout given the potential of additional weight I'll be hauling around. I estimate a fully loaded trike, passengers with gear and all, to weigh in around 400-800lbs. That being said maybe going with 2 rear wheel drive kits may be the better option, however that will dramatically inflate the cost of the project. My original budget was $1,000, but knowing Murphy's law usually changes everything, maybe $2,000 is a more realistic figure. Regardless, I will try to keep costs down without sacrificing safety. Once all the welding is done and cleaned up, she'll get sand blasted and painted. I'd like to finish all brackets and supports beforehand so not to have to paint twice.

Now, we all know threads are worthless without pics, and it's what everyone has been waiting for.......


There she is, HERE is the link to the drive train in action.

I'm open to any and all suggestions! This should be a fun project!!!

Thanks, Dave.
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Put the video on youtube and just link it.

I used to look at the rickshaws in downtown Chicago, and they generally had a front motor with a middrive also spinning the rear. They also moved a rider and possibly 2-3 passengers. That was 3 years ago. I've not been down there since.

Maybe two motors with a single pedal assist sensor and one throttle, using a dual controller that can spin both motors. People say you can also do this with two separate controllers, and one display, one throttle, etc,

Thanks Harry, I just added a Vimeo link 👍

Would it be best to try to find a kit or should I piece everything together? I should confess I'm about as virgin as one can get when it comes to E-Bikes... So I'll be crash coursing my way through this.
Google Barrent Hoffman 2WD. I’ve posted the 2WD schematic here several times. I’m trying to repost but…

I think it worked


  • WCEC 2WD Wiring Diamgram 6.pdf
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They make a differential axle for trikes down in South America, have considered using like 2 Eahoras XC100 to make the back end of a trike( regen nice feature) after a fiasco with a "Beecool" trike( actually very good for the money) I decided the first thing I would do when meeting traffic would be to lean the wrong way and do a head-on collision or slam into white deer at terminal velocity.The 'Bee Cool" trike was around $1600 with everything already figured out , mid drive collapsable basket nice unit 24" tires( fatty on front, 2.25 x 24 on rear) rear diff, seriously if you want something turn key consider something like this, the middrive 36 volt motor passed my stall on hill test( pulled great) however the sickening realization that this was not what I expected.There is a 2 wd controller that will not break the bank available, plus on a trike you have plenty of room for big battery and other parts for the drivetrain.Good thing about your build method you already have differntial acion( chop off those floppy pedals) and try to figure out how to reduce moving mass and bearing points all that stuff eats power. Two 30-foot poles? Good luck( oh yes a little thinking will show you how to build a trike differential using two freewheels) the frame looks rather springy and you are talking a bit of serious weight and mass, as I said good luck it proves the spirit of innovation is alive and well.