Introduction: 600W Electric Trike

Picture of 600W Electric Trike

This is a school project in which I'm making a dual motor electric trike to carry one person. I've used many different metal working tools such as a lathe, milling machine, MIG welder, and plenty of hand tools.

Step 1: Main Frame Construction

Picture of Main Frame Construction

Materials need for the main frame

- 35mm box section steel or similar (roughly 3 meters of the stuff)
- old BMX headtube


- steel rule
- tape measure
- scribe
- hacksaw or electric auto one!
- engineer's square
- 200 amp MIG welder
- hand file (rounded and flat)
- electric grinder (speeds up filing and cleans up welds)
- various clamps and vices

1. Cut the box section steel to lengths of 1000mm (1 metre) for each piece
2. Front piece of steel is shape around radius of BMX headtube at a 10 degree angle of rake
3. Cut off headtube from BMX and file or grinder
4. File small 45 degree chamfers and the ends of the box section steel around the edges for better welds
5. Weld all these parts together as pictured
6. Grind on top of frame at the "t" join for a nice finish

p.s you don't to follow the exact dimension, just my design has those

Step 2: Motor Mounts

Picture of Motor Mounts

Materials needed-

- more box section
- angle iron that fits onto box section well

Tools needed-

- all marking + measuring tools
- Welder
- Grinder
- Clamps and Vice
- Milling machine with correct cutters
- Pillar drill (can use a hand drill but more difficult or impossible for one part of this)

1. Cut pieces to size (will tell sizes when finished by it will vary depending on your motor)
2. Mark out slots to be milled - make sure you have corresponding lines on both pieces for centering when welding
3. Clamp angle iron in milling machine
4. Mill slots (6mm slots here for my motor)
5. Do the same on the box section and go through the opposite side as well
6. Weld the 2 pieces together from the underneath (I needed a flush surface for my motor)

There will be a left and right version of this so just make 2 in opposite if you get me!

Step 3: Machining Wheel Sprockets

Picture of Machining Wheel Sprockets

This part of the vehicle really depends on the sprockets your using. I worked out I needed a 5.2:1 ratio for my drivetrain. I had to achieve this ratio in just one step down. This wasn't possible due to the limited sprocket selection I had. So I ended up with an 8 tooth motor sprocket and a 40 tooth wheel sprocket. This is a 4.44:1 ratio but I thought that the motors would be able to handle the extra load so I went for it.

With my sprockets (mainly the wheel sprocket) I had to machine the bosses (the part of the sprocket that protrudes out). This requires:

- A centre lathe
- Measuring tools
- If possible Vernier Calipers (great for accurate measurements of diamters and bores)

The machining was needed because bolts were to be used for fixing to sprocket to the wheel and the boss was too large fit the bolt hole pattern in the wheel hub. You get me?

1. Mount sprocket into 3 jaw chuck in lathe
2. Turn the boss down to 40mm in diameter and 12.5mm in depth (was 25mm in depth and 60mm in diameter), keep checking the dimensions with the vernier calipers until you can make your final cut
3. Remember when facing off the face' of the sprocket the surface has got to be as smooth as possible.

For the motor sprockets it also depends on the sprockets your using, the motors and what sort of spindle the motor provides you.

On my motors their was a flattened egdge to it so I could use a grub screw and a thread in the sprocket hole to fix it to the spindle.

For this you need:

- Set of taps
- 10mm reaming tool
- Bench vice
- Drill bits
- Pillar drill
- Vice clamp for drill work

1. Tap the sprocket hole using the taps, firstly with the taper and then finish with plug (No pilot hole is required here
2. Then tap the hole for the grub screw (drill your pilot 1mm smaller than the tapped diameter)

Remember that clamping the motor sprockets are tricky and you should be able to use the teeth to hold the sprocket square in the clamp.

This is just what I did by the way. If you happen to make this yourself you might using keyed shafts, grub screws like mine, bolts, pins or anything else that lets you attach the sprockets.

I also had to make sleeve for the wheel bolts. These help space the wheel sprocket from the tyre to stop rubbing from the chain. These are simply round bar with a hole bored out from it. I cut the bar to length (8 in total, 50mm long) and then bored out the 8mm hole for the wheel bolts.


You need a:

- pillar drill or a bench mounted hand drill
- 8mm drill bit (bolts for my wheels are that size)
- vice clamp for drilling
- scriber
- centre punch

1. Mark out the holes with the scriber (I cheated and took apart my wheels so that I had one half of the wheel hub in which I used the bolts for marking out on my sprockets
2. Securely mount the sprocket with the vice clamp and then drill pilot holes
3. Drill holes with final size drill bit


Step 4: Welding the Motor Mounts to the Main Frame

For this disassemble the lovely chain drivetrain you've created.

For this you need:
- MIG welder
- Bench vice
- Right angled jig, this is comprised of two angle iron pieces fixed at a right angle
- G Clamps
- Combination Square

1. Position the main frame and drivetrain mount into the bench vice with the right angled welding jig, use the G clamps for clamping the jig to the frame and motor mounts.
2. Check for squareness with combination square
3. Tack weld the drivetrain mount then check for squareness with combination square. If not square use large hammer to correct
4. Fully weld each drivetrain mount (weld on the inside of the frame and the outside but not the top
5. After welding check again with the combination square. You'll notice that because of the heating process of the welding each motor mount will bend inwards by about 3-5 degrees. You can just get a nylon mallet and hit the motor mounts until they are square!

So check, check, check is what I say!

I'm sorry there are no pics for this stage, I had little time to do each stage as it was in school time with classes going on at the same time at some points!

Step 5: The Seat and Its Fixing

Picture of The Seat and Its Fixing

This part I will be explaining making the seat mount for a standard school chair. The chair had two tubes that went across the underneath that I could use for a simple mount to be welded to. The mount has several holes that bolts go through into the main frame for adjustment.


- Automatic Hacksaw/ normal hacksaw
- Scriber
- Steel Rule
- Engineer’s square
- File
- Pillar drill/ bench mounted hand drill
- Centre punch
- Movable vice
- Drill bits
- Ball pein hammer
- MIG welder
- Small G clamps
- Bench vice
- Welding equipment

1. Mark out length angle iron according to your chair with scriber and measurement tools
2. Cut with hacksaw in the bench vice
3. File off burring for good finish and for no sharp edges
4. Mark out hole destinations for the bolts that keep the seat coming off the trike with measurement tools and centre punch.
5. Mount in vice clamps and drill out required holes with smaller pilot holes for accuracy. Then drill out fully.
6. The hard bit is getting the holes aligned with the holes that will be drilled in the main frame tube. Again these need to be measured and centre punch carefully, pilot holed then drilled fully. Test the mount in the frame and see if the holes work with the bolts. If its hard getting them DON'T wack them in with a hammer. Use a round file to adjust the holes so that you can slide the bolts in nicely without ruining the threads!

7. The mount needs to be welded to the bottom of the seat. Use your head and get clamp the mount to the seat for welding. Tack weld then fully weld the mount, CHECK that it still fits when you've tacked welded. ALSO before welding make sure any paint on the seat tubes is filed/ sanded off for a neater weld.


Step 6: Battery Holder

Picture of Battery Holder

The battery holder idea came from the workshop technician at my school. Its just angle iron bent at right angles and welded shut.


- All measuring tools, scriber, combination square etc blaady bla
- MIG welder
- Hack saw, auto hackkereresaw
- Files/ Angle grinder
- Clamps and Bench vice
- Nylon mallet for bending
- Mole grips

The length of the angle iron depends on the batteries you use and this how I made mine-----

1. Work out how much angle iron you need plus bending allowances, make sure you choose steel that is isn't too thicker gauge otherwise its going to be hard to bend manually

2. Mark out all the lines where it will bent

3. Mark out using the combination square the sections that will be cut out to accommodate the bends, the combination has the 45 degree angle you want to get on the angle iron

4. Cut away and be careful about cutting inside and out of lines for the accuracy

5. Get the angle in the bench vice and bend around the lines you have made using the nylon mallet, perhaps try bending the same spare angle to see how much length you loose after it has been bent?

5. Make sure everything is square. I used a flat sheet of wood to work out what needed to be adjusted

6. Now use the mole grips to clamp the edges of the bends and tack weld. Check everything and then fully weld, WELD UNDERNEATH NOT ON TOP

7. Spruce it up and angle grind the welded off the angle and voila you have a battery holder to be welded behind the seat on the main frame.

ONe more thing, the angle iron i bent into shape had an extra piece cut to complete a rectangle but if you can work out a rectangle with all the bends with ONE piece then thats even cooler!

Step 7: Foot Plates/ Holders/ Pedals Whatever!

My foot pedals were quite poor and were made at the last minute and If I had more time I would definately make them more elegant and safe.

They are just two pieces of flat bar bent at appropriate angles then welded together to the main frame, see the final pictures to see what I mean!

Step 8: Electronics

Picture of Electronics

This part of the project was a strange mixture of quality and last minute bodging.

- I used two 12v 32amp batteries
- A 75amp 24V speed controller made by 4QD in England- quite pricey but really reliable
- 5 LED battery condition meter
- Plunger pot for throttle
- Lots of cable
- Connectors for batteries
- Two 24v 300W DC motors

The picture for this step show the basic set up, and is not a circuit diagram.
4QD's site has extensive information on electric vehicles and how to work out battery, motor and speed controller configurations.

The choice of my configuration was analytically chosen from other electric vehicles like the Built For Fun Racer as these had the similar speed and weight I had in mind. This guy has indirectly help me with this project and his site also has plenty of information and plans too.

Step 9: Finished Trike

Picture of Finished Trike
After the time spent doing the electronics I tested and here are some pictures and a video showing the finished project. Before I installed the electronics I spray painted the whole main frame which had been stripped of all the parts beforehand. A couple of coats of paint was needed to keep the steel rusting.

Thanks for looking,

I might be adding slightly more detail on the electronics and where to go for parts but in the mean time I thought was ok as it is!


MeanUncleBob (author)2015-09-17

Pretty neat. Did you know that there are motor sprockets with a freewheel? I've only seen the ones for #25 chain but that doesn't mean they don't make them for other sizes.

Kinda drooling over that controller.

smegger (author)2014-05-25

Indeed I have. I did think about this but basically I've just designed it so one motor will be slightly stalling when the other is running normally when cornering. The motors are not powerful enough to start 'tyre scrub' - as in spinning whilst cornering. So therefore in this kind of application I didn't feel a differential would be necessary.

If I did use one it would completely change the frame design too.



Mighty T H O R (author)2014-05-25

hello, i noticed you used two motors, would one motor go free wheeling when you are turning to increase maneuverability? two wheels rotating at the same speed when turning would burn up the rubber that is why they came up with the differential.

great project!!!

Please advise.


gluvit (author)2014-05-12


MineCraft-Nuffsaid (author)2013-01-17

What do you say about 2 18v battery's? Will this supply the power? my power source is a drill battery (2 of them) And would like to know your opinion. my engineering goes only so far with high School classes.

Drill batteries are only 2400 - 5000 mAh

Those batteries will not be enough. You need something with at least 30Amps

First work out the power (watts) needed for your vehicle- this will depend on factors like the weight, top speed, acceleration required, hills you may need to climb. From this you can roughly work out what current your motors are going to draw from the batteries.

Batteries store energy and will discharge at a rate depending on the amount of current the motors are requiring. What Amp hour rating are your drill batteries? You will need to connect them in either series or parallel to combine them? Connecting them in parallel will double the amp hour and series will just double to voltage.

Read some electronics theory first to familiarize yourself. Go to your library and speak to your tutors/teachers. This will help you in your choice of motors and batteries. Drill batteries have been known to be used in radio controlled combat robots for competition. I just have a feeling there amp hour rating wot be sufficient for a decent run time when used in a one person vehicle.

Thanks, luckily my neighborhood has no hills (Lucky me), the i was going to use the drill entirely so there is less electronics to make me sunny side up. if you need an idea on my vehicle, look up the Drill kart on

gurustein (author)2011-05-13

Where can I get Motors for Cheap cost.Iam in shortage of money.

smegger (author)gurustein2013-01-17

Have a look at wheelchair motors and spare electric scooter motors (like mine). Check ebay and scrap yards for motors

From what I saw, he built the motor

freeza36 (author)2012-02-24

wheres the cup holder? lol nice job man

book54321 (author)2011-06-19

How much I have a trike

Vinsu (author)2011-03-27


goeon (author)2010-02-28

 Thats pretty freaking awesome ! keep up the good work man

m5industriesinc (author)2010-02-05

every thing about it is to  complex

m5industriesinc (author)2010-01-27

make it easier

smegger (author)m5industriesinc2010-01-27

 Hi there, what part of it are you talking about? Or is it just in general? I've stripped this trike down and should hopefully be starting afresh with either a simplified version of this or an entirely new concept with the view to make the construction easier.


psymansays (author)2010-01-18

 That looks like a lot of fun, especially in the video. It actually looks fast, too, for its size and wattage.

ibuildcoolstuff (author)2010-01-17

 How long do the batteries last?

smegger (author)ibuildcoolstuff2010-01-17

 Hey, thanks for your interest, if you scroll down you'll see a short description of how it ran and rough battery discharge times ---->


shadowkiller (author)2009-11-15

 What kind of wheels are you using? and were did you get them?

smegger (author)shadowkiller2009-11-16

 The wheels are fully pneumatic and are 10" in diameter. The have a pressed steel hub made of two halves in which 4 bolts hold them together. Hole for axle is 5/8" dia.

I actually got them from the same place as the batteries- a local hardware farm store. They had a selection and once I saw them they looked perfect!

You can also get them here:

Hope that helps!

smegger (author)smegger2009-11-16

Oh, these are just the rear wheels

The front is from a kids bike- alloy rim etc etc

ElvenChild (author)2009-10-20

 whats the top speed of it

smegger (author)ElvenChild2009-10-20

 I would guess around 20mph on level tarmac. Thats just my comparison to what it feels like on a bicycle.

geeklord (author)2009-06-27

Not trying to rip on your design or anything, but couldn't a speed control easily be made with a MOSFET (or four MOSFET's for forward and reverse), a microcontroller, and a potentiometer attached to a trigger? I see all these speed controls and imagine that they're pretty simple on the inside...

smegger (author)geeklord2009-06-28

Yeah pretty much! Your right, I'm not amazing with electronics and I wouldn't really know how to build one. The one I have here is controlled with four MOSFETS, the 40 amp version only has 2. If I made one I would want to know how it worked properly, not just build it from some kit or something. Plus, due to my time constraints I couldn't build one. It was tight enough as it is- I had to build it through the last night to get it into school on time! Anyway, it would definitely be interesting to design your own, I might look into it and see what people have done, i just need the theory first! Sam

geeklord (author)smegger2009-06-28

Once I get my AVR's up and running I might be able to build one. I could use a 555 timer too. Whatever, cool instructable!

matt (author)2009-06-18

where did you get the batteries from?

smegger (author)matt2009-06-18

Well I got them from a local farm/hardware store (in my village funnily enough called Browns) that happen to sell different types of batteries.

The batteries are (about £40 each) :

Numax 'Ev Power', Deep Cycling Battery, 32ah, TYPE 896cxt

You could probably find an alternative to this as there are plenty of other manufacturers.

Here is a great site to also look at for information on building electric vehicles:



cheordinario (author)2009-03-09

very cool

altomic (author)2009-01-26

cool project. how fast does this thing go? how far? how long? thanks

smegger (author)altomic2009-01-27

I didnt exactly design it with a very specific speed and I guess it goes around 15-20 mph and obviously it depends on the terrain/ topography to how far or long it runs. When running it on tarmac up and down my street (fairly flat) it lasted about 20mins and this was running it full speed apart from turning. Thanks for you interest though, you thinking of building something like this? Also at the moment the trike is just sitting in my garage, I need to get it going again! Charge up the ol batteries! Cheers Sam

stephenniall (author)2009-01-01

Dude i love this hopefully i will be making one of these as me & my dad have just bought a mig welder

smegger (author)stephenniall2009-01-02

brilliant! I wish I had a MIG welder at home at the time cause it would of made the project a lot quicker!

Scotlandman27 (author)2008-07-30

give the guy a break. so what if he used a picture from the web that accurately shows how he did the wiring. loads of people use pics from the web because it saves time. it is smarter to use that photo of the wiring then drawing up the same thing on his own

smegger (author)Scotlandman272008-07-30

Hi there, thanks for 'sticking up for me', but I accidentally published the instructable when there was only one step completed! Thats why they said the above comment. Thanks any way though dude!

finnster (author)2008-06-08

looks to me like an instructable

nireves1 (author)2008-04-28

maybe you could tell us witch motors you used?

smegger (author)nireves12008-04-28

The motors I used are originally for electric scooters and only used as a single motor. But I thought I might as well double the wattage by having two 24v 300W motors. They used 4 bolts to mount and they can be found here:

Ebay 350W 24V Scooter Motor

PKM (author)2008-03-21

Now why didn't I get to build stuff like that at school? **unfair** It looks like it turned out pretty well- have you found out the usual electric vehicle performance measures, ie top speed/range/hill-climbing ability?

Also, I second noah's question- is this a GCSE/A-level tech project? And kudos for actually going into detail about the shop work part, not just "throw the sprockets in your lathe and turn them down so they fit the wheels" :)


smegger (author)PKM2008-03-23

Hi there, the project was for A- level and the brief was simply to promote the engineering department at our school and electric powered vehicles. I haven't found any accurate measures yet but I think it can go about 18mph tops on a flat and it runs for about 25 mins on tarmac at varying speeds. Thanks for your positive comment PKM, will hopefully test it properly sometime and post up the results!

mushfiqc (author)2008-03-21

instead of a 24v motors can i use a bigger one like a 48v cuz it looks really slow aand also what bout 24v battery?

smegger (author)mushfiqc2008-03-23

Well of course you can but everything will have to be designed in moderation of the higher power components. For instance you would need a 48V speed controller and a total of 48V from the batteries too, higher guage wires, stronger motor mounts, etc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

noahw (author)2007-11-14

Hey, This project looks like it's going to be awesome and we would love to have it on the site, but you might want to wait until you finish a bit more of it before posting your instructable. Really though, I think that this project is going to rock! What school are you building it in? How much longer will you be working on it?

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