Help me put together a winter E-Trike setup.


Local time
5:50 AM
Sep 22, 2011
Good day everyone,

I would like your thoughts on a build I am thinking about.

I built a motorized bike awhile ago using a Wal-mart 7 speed, a Tanaka 32cc engine, and a Staton friction drive kit. It worked great and I could hit 20 mph on it.

Then I found a Yamaha C3 locally for $1000. Fuel injected, easy as pie to start, and a few simple mods make it hit 45 mph. Soooooo, I never ride my motorized bike anymore.

I found 26" Trailmate DeSoto Classic trike with a 3 speed for sale locally for a good price and my idea is that I can ride this in the winter without the snow and ice killing me every quarter mile. It shows some age, but it's solid overall.

Manufacturer's link

Normally I would just put in a gas engine kit and be done with it, but being that this will be something ridden in winter, things aren't so clear cut. Small gas engines like this don't like running at 10 degrees or lower. Sure these temps will affect batteries too, but to a much lesser degree.

Looking at what is made, I have learned several things. Please correct me if I get anything wrong.

Motor: I am figuring that, ideally, I will want a geared hub motor with a one-way clutch and not a direct drive motor. It is completely flat where I live so regenerative braking will be of little use and the lack of cogging will be nice. The motor will go on the front wheel.

I don't really figure I will need a lot of power, 600 watts seems like a common power rating. If I go too much, the front wheel will just spin on the ice and snow anyway. Perhaps I might find something used from someone looking to upgrade?

Batteries: Sealed Lead Acid. No desire in going fancy. Any particular brand or do I just look for something rated for high discharge rates? Do they make special batteries for cold weather The round trip distance to my work is 6 miles, so a 10 mile range should give me a safety margin. Of course I can always pedal too to increase the range.

Controller: Something of reasonable quality that will handle a 600 watt motor plus a safety margin. One thing I may want to do is setup a hybrid electric system where I toss on a small 2-stroke generator along with a transformer/rectifier to take the 110 VAC to 48 VDC. So something that can handle potentially dirty input like that would be nice to have.

Not wanting to spend a huge amount of money, but I don't want to cheap out either. What do you guys think?