Picture of Electric Trike on the cheap
hello everyone. first of all thanks for all the question/comments on my electric bike build.  Now we go to the next level. An Electric Trike made on the cheap with an old electric wheelchair and a standard trike.
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Step 1: Find a trike. and motor(s)

i picked up my trike from Craigslist for 50 bucks.  As for the motors and control box i got a broken power chair from a friend in exchange for some auto repair work.

also going to need a front sprocket from a donor bike pile.  the bigger the sprocket the faster the bike will go (horsepower permitting)

the wheelchair has all needed parts. motor, controller, batteries, and controls.

other bits are from ACE hardware.

Step 2: Mounting the motors

Picture of mounting the motors
this is the tricky bit.  i disconnected the chain from the pedals to hook the electric motors up to the drive.

connected into the 3 speed hub i have 3 gear choices  1st gear is 50% underdriven (more power for hills)  2nd gear is 1 to 1 and 3rd gear is 50% overdriven (for more speed)

if you dont have a 3 speed you can connect the motors straight to the chain gear on the rear axle.

since it is an electric powerchair with 2 motors and the gearboxes had a 5 bolt hub i went to ACE and got some couplers and dug up an old front sprocket from a donor bike.  placed the sprocket between the hubs and bolted the hubs together.


motors are mounted on a board that is attached to the bike by the brackets that held the basket on originally.

you want to mount the motor solidly because it is going to put out 3 or 4 times the force of an average person pedaling.

also make sure the sprockets are perfectly aligned. If they are not the chain will slip off.  

also make sure all bolts are on the bike frame or it can cause problems later on.  i built this with absolutely no welding.

cowcrusher1 year ago
If you plan to use this vehicle on public roads, check with your local jurisdiction for they may require you to have it registered and possibly insured.
evilmunkey (author)  cowcrusher1 year ago
in CA if it is under 750 watts its legal. they treat it as a bicycle.

750W? You lucky bugger. South Australia the limit is a pathetic 200W before it gets classed as a motorcycle and needs registration etc

nezzbit1 year ago
hi would it be possible to mount some mini wind turbines on to to put power back into the batterys
No. Thermodynamics.
snotty DTOM_Bear2 months ago

You could try it sure. Bear in mind that perpetual motion is impossible unless you have a cat that always lands on its feet (as cats do) and jam on toast that always lands jam side down (as jammy toast does). The trick is to tape the toast onto the cat and start the system spinning. The cat's tail serves conveniently as a power take off with an integrated universal joint. The other end of the cat serves as an in-flight entertainment system and the jammy toast makes a good snack. Don't eat too much or your system will stall and you could face a lawsuit. Also a stalled cat-toast system will hover on one side so this could work as a sort of extra-dangerous hoverboard.

Thermodynamics and quantum theory aside though, solar panels on a trike can work nicely. Here's how:

Have fun :)

moein DTOM_Bear9 months ago

exactly .

tovey nezzbit1 year ago
Better to use solar panels.
tovey nezzbit1 year ago
Better to use solar panels.
Yes. For use when it is parked on a windy day ;-)
evilmunkey (author) 1 year ago

EDIT! i have removed the 3 speed hub. it could not hold the power i was putting through it and failed. the chain now goes from the drive sprocket to the rear axle sprocket. since i dont have the freewheel from the 3 speed hub on it the throttle has to be on to move. if you let all the way off the throttle it will cause the drive wheel to stop and skid the trike to a stop. it takes some practice with the control but once i got it down i am now able to control the trike a lot better. and since it is direct drive it has reverse.

new instructable will be coming soon.

bennelson1 year ago
If a person was building a trike simply from bicycle parts, and did NOT have a trike differential, one could simply use two motors and chain each to one of the two rear wheels. No differential needed!
There have been several electric cars built that drive both rear wheels instead of a single motor and differential.
evilmunkey (author)  bennelson1 year ago
the wheelchair motors have gearboxes attached to them. they go 5mph with stock wheels. you may get 12 or so mph out of a bike wheel mounted to it.
koklimabc1 year ago
how can i built this motor from scratch?
evilmunkey (author)  koklimabc1 year ago
i used a quantam wheelchair for parts. it had a 5 bolt hub (part that bolts to the wheelchair wheels)

i turned the motors inward and added a bike sprocket and coupled the hubs together.
Rodro2261 year ago
put some videos!
Beergnome1 year ago
I actually have that exact same trike! they were mostly used in factories I got mine when the Alcoa plant behind the brewery shut down. A bunch of these trikes were going to be thrown out after not fetching anything at the auction, and one of my co workers and myself were able to just take a few home

Ive been thinking about moterizing mine for a while and this instructable verifies my back of the head day dream engineering.
bennelson1 year ago
Another advantage of most electric bikes and trikes is that they are HYBRIDS!
Typically, they are designed so that you can use the electric motor OR the pedals. If you ever have trouble with the electric system (blown fuse, out of charge, etc.) you can still pedal home!
Japy1 year ago
I'm impressed. Wanted an electric trike forever.
Great job!
_Rommel_1 year ago
Really nice. Gz.
What kind of trike model is that? All the ones I've seen so far are the ones with the seat way in the back (and those are expensive new -or- used.
evilmunkey (author)  Mobiusdiablo1 year ago
i really dont know. i think it may be a 1980's Schwinn. the seat was close to the basket. when i built the motor box i made it a little longer than it needed to be so i can have more room.
Reiff1 year ago
Hey that is really nice. Do you know about how much you payed in all for the whole thing. I love this thing, You have plenty of room for cargo, that is really well done.
evilmunkey (author)  Reiff1 year ago
the hard to find parts on the build are all on an electric wheelchair. you can get them for around $100 at flea markets or craigslist. just make sure the batteries are good on it. you get the controller, motor(s), control stick, charger, and wiring all in one buy.
about 20 bucks in bits at the hardware store and you are set.
Okay, wow, I'm surprised, looking at all those electric motors, I though it would be somewhat costly. I see you have made another electric bike one a different Instrucatables. Yeah, good job.
That's really cool. Check on or (e-bike forum) if you get stumped or need parts. I like gas bikes, but I like your bike. Good way to recycle stuff. Powered bicycles are the way to go to save a bunch of money now.
evilmunkey (author)  Yard Sale Dale1 year ago
thanks. i have been lucky on parts. mostly from junked bikes and the local hardware store. the ACE out here has a lot of bits, connectors, and specialty parts that u cannot find in the big box stores.
if u put on wheel fenders. on then put on flexible solar panels on uill be able to charge yr batteries as well. good place to start is power .
evilmunkey (author)  astral_mage1 year ago
i am planning a canopy top for it with solar charging.