Introduction: Delta Trike With Front Wheel Drive
This trike is a long wheelbase, semi-recumbent, rear steering delta. I have built five delta trikes so far. This one was number three and it is still my favorite one to ride.
There are three main parts to the trike: the front power wheel (Steps 1-4), the main frame with seat (Steps 5-6), the rear steering wheels (Steps 7-11), rigging (12) and the optional cargo rack (13). The trike is built from parts from three donor bikes I got at a bike coop as I described in this "Ible": https://www.instructables.com/id/How-I-Get-Free-Bike-Parts-Legally/ A parts list is on its way (14).
Welding is required and the cost for purchased parts was roughly $100.
Front wheel 24"
Rear wheels 20"
Width of track 31"
Length overall 78"
Step 1: Front Wheel Drive
Front wheel drive has some advantages and some disadvantages. I like it because it is simpler than a rear wheel drive delta trike (no differential is required) and there is not a long chain run.
The two main disadvantages are that it loses traction going up hills because most of your weight is to the rear of the trike and that you probably will want to steer with the rear wheels.
Step 2: Harvest a Rear Fork With Pedals
Choose a rear fork that has a derailleur that can be remounted upside down.
Start thinking of the old right side of the rear-facing fork as the new left side of the front-facing fork.
Cut off the top tube and bottom tube right next to the bottom bracket shell.
Step 3: Invert the Derailleur
This takes some getting used to. Your new trike will have a derailleur that faces upward rather than one that hangs down. The bottom loop of the chain is the power side and the top loop of chain (with the derailleur) is the slack side. Photo #2 shows a closeup of the inverted derailleur.
Step 4: Weld Main Frame to Bottom Bracket Shell
The front end of the main frame will be welded to the bottom bracket shell (BBS). It helps if you can "fish mouth" the main frame tubes (curving cuts made so that the tubes wrap around the BBS and give increased surface area for welding). Tack them in place and check the alignment.
Step 5: The Main Frame
Tubing harvested from old bicycle frames is used to build the main trike frame. Two pieces of tubing are welded to the bottom bracket shell (previous step). The top piece still had a head tube attached to it which served as a nice place to link the tubing segments (Photo #1, #2 and #3). The rear part of the main frame is two tubes, one on top of the other.
The completed lower part of the frame is 40" long. At the rear the main tube makes a right angle turn upward (Photo #4) and then is 23" tall. The upright tube is double for about half its height (Photo #5).
Step 6: Seating
I have used two different kinds of fishing boat seats on this trike. The first was a cushioned seat that was nice, but heavy and expensive (Photo #1). The second was a lighter plastic seat that was only about $20 (Photo #2).
Photo #3 shows the location of the seat attachment. Up close (Photo #4) you can see that both seats were attached to 1" angle iron pieces welded to the main frame of the trike. The two pieces of angle iron that are at right angle to the main frame tubes were for the first cushy seat. The two pieces of angle iron that are joined and run along the long axis of the main frame were for the second lighter seat. You don't need both attachments - choose one way or the other.
Photo #5 shows the underside of the new seat. There are two pieces of 1" angle iron welded to half of a rotating seat mount. I drilled out the center rivet of the seat mount and separated the two black metal plates. I spaced the angle iron mounts so they fit along the outside of the angle iron pieces welded to the main frame and welded them to the black metal plate. Then I drilled three 1/4" holes through all four angle iron pieces to hold the seat to the frame (Photo #6 and #7).
Step 7: Harvest Two Matching Front Frames
Harvest two front frames from donor bikes that match each other. You want the two top tubes and the two bottom tubes to line up with each other when the head tubes are parallel. This will give you a symmetrical rear end (Photo #2 and #3). Cut the top and bottom tubes of each front frame so the cut ends are parallel with the head tube and the same lengths on both frames. The easy way to test this is to stand the cut frames on the floor to see if the head tubes are parallel with the floor and identical (Photo #4)
The two front forks need to match too. You can swap matching front forks in place of unmatched ones if needed (Photo #5).
I refer to these two side frames as "wings".
Step 8: Weld Wings to Main Frame
The two front frames prepared in the previous step are welded to the main frame vertical tube. Tack the frames in place and check all your alignments.
The two head tubes should be exactly vertical and thus parallel with each other. The two "wings" (side frames) on each side of the main vertical tube should be in line with each other. When everything is true and square weld it solidly together.
Step 9: Weld Steering Arms to Forks
I used 1" angle iron to make steering arms that projected 6" from the forks. I ended up putting an arm facing forward and back on each of my forks so i could try different rakes by turning the wheels around.
Step 10: Add Steering Linkage
Photo #1 shows the steering linkage. This is a tube 24" long with a 3/8" nut welded to each end. Photos #2 and #3 show the two ends of the linkage tube with carriage bolts threaded into the nuts.
A 2" long 3/8" hex head bolt is welded at right angles to the carriage bolt and is bolted through a 3/8" hold in the end of the steering arm with two more nuts (Photo #4).
Step 11: Add Tillers
The tillers are 3/4" EMT conduit each 28.5" long. BMX head tube fittings are used to hold the tillers.
The tillers move in tandem because the two forks are linked together by the steering linkage. Moving the tillers to the left turns the trike to the right (and vice versa) just like a tiller on a sailboat. This will seem strange at first but soon becomes second nature.
Step 12: Rigging
The rear derailleur (Well, it is actually the front one now!) cable (Photo #1) loops back to a shifter mounted on the main frame top tube (Photo #2). The other device on the main tube in Photo #2 is a computer to give me speed and mileage readings.
I have brakes only on the front wheel. The cable from the brake (Photo #3) loops back under the seat and up to the right tiller (this should probably be on the left tiller to be standard) (Photo #4). I have an inner tube tie around the brake lever to act as a parking brake in this Photo.
Rear brakes will eventually be added, but they need to be synchronized on both rear wheels or they will pull the bike as it stops.
Step 13: Cargo Carrier
The optional cargo rack is a piece of chipboard that is 20" by 30" (Photo #1).
A piece of 3/4" EMT conduit is welded to the top of another piece of 3/4" EMT which slides down into the seat tube over the front wheel (Photo #2) and is bolted in place.
A second piece of 3/4" EMT extends is welded to two 1/2" EMT supports that extend down on each side of the front wheel stays. "J" hooks are used to secure these supports to the seat stays and chain stays (Photo #3, #4 and #5).
Please see my "Ible" on some safety tips for welding EMT if you are not familiar with the safety concerns: https://www.instructables.com/id/Welding-EMT-Conduit/
Step 14: Parts List
I am compiling this now. I will have it here soon.
Step 15: Video Ridearound
Here is a ridearound video on YouTube
Step 16: Video Walkaround
Here is a walkaround video on YouTube