Electric Trikes for Road Use

From go-karts and bicycles to electric eskies and kids scooters.
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rjws
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by rjws » Fri, 17 Jun 2011, 17:33

Has anyone here done anything with electric trikes registerable for road use? I'm retired and live in the Perth Hills area. That last sentence puts my problems up front. I don't want to pedal the thing and you need considerable power to get up some of the hills out here.

I have purchased two "Yu Feng" trikes that were originally cleaners' carts in a shopping centre. They have a 500 watt 48 volt hub motor on one back wheel with a free wheel on the other side and use four 12 volt 20AHr SLA's for juice. They look pretty good with "mag" spoked wheels of 450mm diameter but a truly horrendous set of 'brakes' consisting of a bicycle style rim brake on the front and a very rudimentary and flimsy drum-and-band brake on the powered rear wheel (but NOT the other rear wheel!?)

As built, they are heavy, slow and under powered and loath ANY kind of slope, let alone a hill, so I put two of the powered wheels on one of them to try it out. Not surprisingly it was a lot better but still not approaching good, by any means, but at least it could get back up the hill to my place at a leisurely 7.5 kph.
I am looking at the feasibility of upping the power even further and getting one registered, but I know very little about this process and the kinds of things that matter and don't matter. I would appreciate any ideas, assistance or know-how about registerable trikes in general and the specifics of getting these sort of things registered.

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That tray back is also a tip-tray (If you are strong enough to lift it up).

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The speedo only works when the throttle is open but not when you are coasting and the 'Fuel Guage' is only a crude voltmeter.

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The beautifully fabricated stainless steel cupboard on the back looks like something out of a hospital and would be ideal as a bain-marie to sell hotdogs or whatever and the dinky little trailer also has a tip tray complete will proper tailgate. The hospital cupboard/canopy can be replaced with another tip tray and with the trailer can carry two wheelbarrows full of stuff. Mind you, if it's something heavy like dirt you had better be prepared to put in some pedal effort. It's also possible to configure the trailer with the other hospital cupboard/canopy for a truly bizarre looking setup.

They have some glaring electrical design faults. There is nothing to stop you driving off with the battery charger plugged in and the battery charging point is a standard IEC (240vac) connector that is permanently live-wired to the battery. Plenty of scope for disaster!

The red trike now has a charging lockout relay but I still need to replace that connector before someone tries to plug it into 240volts.

The range, barebones (no canopy, etc), is about 20 Kms with both power wheels operating and one (slightly over weight) adult but you still have to pedal or push up steep hills. I'm not complaining, though, because they only cost me $300 for the lot, second hand, off course.
Last edited by rjws on Fri, 17 Jun 2011, 14:07, edited 1 time in total.
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woody
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by woody » Fri, 24 Jun 2011, 05:47

Hi,

There was a topic on the forum a long time ago (use advanced search and select forever) about road registering a mobility scooter in NSW. Not much detail but you may be able to contact the poster.

As for speeding it up, you can get some high end Ebike conversion parts. My dad spent about $1500 at EMTB.com.au to get a 26" wheel Crystalyte x5304 ($500), 50A controller ($300) and 48V headway 10Ah pack with 5A charger ($600). Cruising weight is over 150kg (120 + 15 + 10 + 5 for me + donor bike + motor + battery) and it accelerates very nicely using about 2.5-3kW and cruises at 45kph on the flat and 25-30 up some steep hills.

With 2 wheels you might want an all-in-one motor (Golden motor brand?) on each side which would be cheaper..

Cycle Analyst is a good computer to work out how much Juice you're using/used/got left and has good functions like power limiting and torque throttle and cruise control.
Planned EV: '63 Cortina using AC and LiFePO4 Battery Pack

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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by rjws » Mon, 04 Jul 2011, 02:38

Thanks for those tips, Woody ! I've looked into them and I'm considering the options. I have been involved, off and on, with a motor-bike dealership (old family friend) and a well known Swan Valley electric vehicle entrepreneur to try and modify a 50cc motor scooter for electric operation. In the course of this I have found an amazing motor. It's a 'Turnigy 80-100-a' rated at 7 Kw (presumably peak). It was intended for a large electric RC aeroplane and is an 'out-runner' (ie shaft stays still and outer casing rotates. Shades of WW1 le Rhone!) but many people have used it on electric scooters, skate-boards, trikes, etc with striking results. The motor is 100mm X 80mm and weighs 1.5Kg!!!! Takes 150A at 48V. to drive its 12mm shaft. (to distraction??) The best part is the price at $100 roughly plus another similar amount for the controller. Stunning!! I think I'd like to design something using it!
Regards,
Last edited by rjws on Sun, 03 Jul 2011, 16:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by Faz » Fri, 22 Jul 2011, 21:04

If you are planning on using one of the RC controllers you might run into trouble. They don't have a very high peak current rating which isn't a problem when running those motors in a plane but on a scooter with high starting torque requirements they may not be up to the job.

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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by Salty9 » Mon, 08 Aug 2011, 05:57

Another caveat with most aero motors is that they depend on prop wash for cooling and the magnets don't care for heat. Have you considered an automobile alternator used as a motor? This link discusses this use:
Alternator used as motor
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rjws
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by rjws » Mon, 08 Aug 2011, 17:39

The ingenuity of people continues to amaze me !!   I would never have thought to use an alternator like that.
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by rjws » Mon, 08 Aug 2011, 17:40

Thanks Faz ... I just KNEW there would be something...it was too good to be true !
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Johny
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by Johny » Mon, 08 Aug 2011, 17:46

These folk think it's a money maker.
http://www.alternatorconversions.com/

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Post by Salty9 » Mon, 08 Aug 2011, 18:56

Instructions for converting an alternator are available for free in several places on the web just google "converting alternator to motor". But, as Widodo said in Alternator Conversions there are positive benefits to leaving the rotor as it is. Starting with a voltage applied to the rotor that is just below the saturation point you get maximum torque at low rpms. Decreasing the rotor voltage increases the rpms and acts as a sort of throttle.

Another interesting alternator thread is:
REEM by IneptOne which also contains conversion instructions.
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by Carv'n Marv'n » Wed, 07 Mar 2012, 16:05

Hey RJWS...

you may have troubles road registering those vehicles... Check out the ADR rules here - http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/ ... index.aspx

The category yours fits in would be LEM1. http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/ ... an2011.pdf

Some of the obvious shortcomming would be the rims, tyres, suspension and brakes - all of which must meet stringent standards... Go to your local Inspection Engineer for a chat in the first instance.

I have been given the OK by the Engineer to register my trike...

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Last edited by Carv'n Marv'n on Wed, 07 Mar 2012, 06:46, edited 1 time in total.
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rjws
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by rjws » Wed, 29 Aug 2012, 01:31

Since my last post I have experimented with my Chinese trikes and re-discovered some previously held knowledge about electric motors ... namely you may operate them at whatever voltage suits you with the following provisos. 1. NEVER let the motor temperature exceed the melting point of the wire insulation, and 2. The voltage doesn't matter as long as 1. is meticulously observed at all times.
So saying, I've 'upped' the supply voltage to a cautious 60 volts and fitted some rather nice LiFePo 40 A/Hr batteries from Rod Dilkes. The results are striking! One of my experiments consisted of fitting TWO driven wheels on 48 Volts, one each side as you would expect. This worked well except the tiny Lead-Acid batteries sagged alarmingly to destruction levels, hence the battery upgrade.
What I found was that with only ONE powered wheel running at 60volts, the performance far exceeded the two wheels on 48 volts. With two wheels running at 60 volts the result was stunning in terms of acceleration, but of course, the voltage limited the top speed to around 42KPH, which is about as fast as anyone would like to go without any suspension other than the tire pressure on our crappy roads in WA.
My Border Collie thinks its just the most wonderful thing he's ever seen as he charges around the paddock keeping ahead of me, mostly by cheating and taking shortcuts.
The motors which previously sucked a meager 10 Amps on 48 volts, mainly limited by the controllers now drag as much as 35 Amps each on the 60 volt LiFePo battery bank with new controllers! Wonderfully useful things, Cycle Analysts. They tell you stuff you didn't really want to know, sometimes!
RJWS
Last edited by rjws on Tue, 28 Aug 2012, 15:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by Coulomb Racing » Sat, 01 Sep 2012, 00:13

So long as you only are using 300 Watts maximum, 3 wheeled electric vehicles are legal on all footpaths and with the exception of freeways etc any road where bikes are permitted to ride along. Can't find the law at the moment but I used to carry it around with me when I drove my old eV Challenge trike around. It had "300 Watt motor" with a specs sticker on top. Got pulled up twice but let off both times after explaining eV's and showing the paper work..

Hope this helps abit.


Regards,

James
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woody
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Electric Trikes for Road Use

Post by woody » Sat, 01 Sep 2012, 02:25

Thanks James, which state does this apply to?
Planned EV: '63 Cortina using AC and LiFePO4 Battery Pack

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Post by rjws » Sun, 02 Sep 2012, 00:16

I thought the motor power limit was 200 W, Australia-wide? Is WA different in this regard? How easy would it be to just put any sticker on an unmarked Chinese motor, though!? LOL Image

Where did you source your info originally, please? I'd like to follow that up to see what the score is now.

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