Trikes and traffic?

Discussion in 'Motorized Trikes' started by Will Snow, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. Will Snow

    Will Snow Member

    I just finished a motorized long wheel base recumbent. I am surprised how much I like it and the comfort is more than I would have thought. So much so that it has me thinking about a recumbent trike.

    I see some of your trikes and they are interesting, in fact they have been of interest for some time.

    I would like to motorize one but here is what has stoped me: TRAFFIC! and room to ride on the side of the road. How does it workout for you. Some of you must ride in high traffic areas like Fresno, California where I live. Some times I feel I'm in the way even with a standard cruiser or mountian bike. I know by law we are suppose to have our share of the road, but those cars and trucks look pretty big from a bicycle. Law or no law, I'm going to come out the looser If I try challenging them, me thinks. Like most of you, I have had some rude and dangerous things happen to me on a standard bike, but a trike????. Maybe you are just brave souls.

    Never the the less, I would like to learn how and what you do. If you would, also add how the traffic treats you in some of those tight areas.



  2. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    I am still working on my trike conversion, but you are quite correct - a trike does take up a good deal more road space, and is less maneuverable to add to the problem. I used to ride a pedal powered trike in a university town, very bicycle friendly, and found out it adds to the traffic problems even there. I now live in a very bicycle UNfriendly town, and I expect that riding the trike is going to involve mostly hauling it out of town, and hitting back country roads.

    I live at the intersection of a two lane east-west residential street and a 5 lane north-south thoroughfare, on the edge of an industrial zone. South of my residence the 5 lane is in a totally residential area, with a major park and two different schools just off of it, but the speed limit is set at 35 mph, and traffic mostly moves at 50+. It is also quite hilly, so sight lines are short. Riding the trike on the street isn't gonna work.

    Use caution, is all I can advise. On a recumbent trike especially, put up a whip antenna with a bright orange flag and/or a blinking orange strobe on it that rises at least 6 feet in the air. Put good rear-view mirrors on it, and USE them! Bright clothing, reflectorized tape lines on the bike and your safety vest, a good helmet, LIGHTS - BRIGHT LIGHTS - these are all your friends.

    Most importantly, stay off the busy streets wherever possible. It is better to double your trip time using side streets than to have your loved ones going to the morgue to ID your mangled body.
  3. Will Snow

    Will Snow Member


    I suspected as much. Same here, speed limits don't seem to count and many driver are dangerously agressive.

    I wanted to give electric a try and a trike seemed ideal for carring those heavy batteries to get some range but don't want to get killed in the process. Electric with peddles is the only motor powered vehicle in California that removes you from a ton of requirments.

    Well, the prospect looks pretty dim using a trike unless, as you plan, haul it to a quiet area.

    Thank you for your thoughts and good luck with the trike.
  4. Will Snow

    Will Snow Member


    However, I just purchased a recumbent trike and now comes the fun. I will be careful to follow your suggestions, they sound good to me. The trikes look neat to me and I hope this works out ok. Thank you for your response and comments.
  5. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    What type of trike did you buy?
  6. Alaskavan

    Alaskavan Guest

    I have ridden my trike in Seattle during rush hour. The only way I could deal with it was to take a lane and keep up with traffic. Way too much adrenaline. I can't imagine doing that on a regular basis. On the other hand, once out of town, it's the only way to fly.
  7. Will Snow

    Will Snow Member


    Simple Simon

    I bought a terra. It is used but looks pretty good in the picture and I will receive it in a few days. Trike conversion?, Does that mean you are converting a two wheel bicycle to a trike? Whatever you are doing, I would like to see picture of it when you get around to it.


    I understand what you are saying. It is a concern with me also and as Simple Simon has pointed out also, there is good reason for concern.

    So far, I'm still deternined. Good visable flag, flashing lights and I will try to stay off busy streets as much as possible. In some areas I can see I'll be a real pain to motorist, but there are spots to pull over to let the traffic go by. As with my motorcycle and other motorized bicycles my attitude is: trucks, cars,motorcycles all have the right of way no matter what.

    I really would like to make this good for transportation as a enjoyable daily runabout. In California there are a lot of restricting laws and many seem to be for good reason, but with electric you are scott free with in reason. By that I mean: obey the law and more important, try not to anger motorist.

    I like the idea of quiet,clean ,electric, but at lease for starters I may also add a small 4cycle motor as a backup so I don't get stranded. I even have in the back of my little mind to ad a trailer for a fairly long ride. I have seen a one wheel trailers to carry extra batteries in, use a plug in connectors and a switch to connect to the bike???. Maybe an over kill but I think I have read of others doing it. Well just a thought for now.

    I have a lot to learn and I like that part also.
  8. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    Yes, the trike conversion is turning a two wheeler - a Huffy ladies 24" front suspension bike - into a trike. I purchased a rear axle kit from another member here who wasn't going to use it, and some other stuff from another guy whose wife put her foot down about his motored bike, so he went to a motorcycle.

    As purchased, the rear axle was a solid axle designed to drive only the right rear wheel while the left was just a spinner. I cut the axle, had it machined for another drive gear, and a matching drive hub put on the outboard end of the left half axle. I've put a Shimano three speed internally geared hub in as a mid-drive, at the point where the original hub as a two wheeler fit. That will drive the two free-wheel capable final drive sprockets, one on each internal end of the half axles. By doing that I get, effectively, a differential, as the outboard wheel can free wheel faster in turns rhan the axle is driving it.

    Just forward of that, in the rear triangle, is going a jackshaft with a sprocket on the left end, a sprocket on the right end, and a third sprocket just inboard on the right to provide power from either the pedals or the engine to the mid-drive. Engine is a 49 cc HT, which just fits (barely) inside the rear triangle immediately behind the down tube for the seat and will feed the left end of the jackshaft.

    It is my intent to make louvered side covers for the engine compartment, and have the exhaust/muffler centered under the rear end, mostly for looks but partly for stealth reasons. With the wide tractor saddle type seat set up on a suspension set back post, it will lower the riding height about 6 inches, and shift the CoG mor than 8 inches rearward. Brakes will be a single pull handle hydraulis split circuit, with force going 55% to the rear and 45% to the front wheel.

    For now, it will be pull start, but I'd like to convert it to electric start with the starter motor acting as a low power onboard generator for lighting purposes. That will have to wait.

    My camera died, so I have no pics, but I do intend to borrow my sons camera one of these days and take some.
  9. Will Snow

    Will Snow Member

    Is this the same trike you are going to put electric wheel motors on? If so, sounds like a gas electric set up.

    Custom fabrication, they are the most interesting. When I was a kid a lot of that was going on, more so than today. Things were not as high tech then and not nearly the restrictions.
  10. ibdennyak

    ibdennyak Guest

    You got that right.........and I miss it. :icon_cry:
  11. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    Not the same ride at all. The trike conversion is a fairly conventional delta trike, design wise. The other is going to be a tadpole recumbent.
  12. Will Snow

    Will Snow Member

    I have learned a lot from this forum and a dedicated electric transportation form called "Endless Sphere". I also talked to kyle, he puts about 10,000 miles a year on his trike. Kyle and members of this forum have given me some pretty good tips. So, I'm going to brave the streets with this electric powered recumbent trike.

    Here is what I have decided on: Mid-drive ( using the bikes chain and gearing ) with a 1000w motor, 24v-36v controller with a thumb throttle. In California, (according to the DMV handbook ) 1000w is the legal limit. I will probably try different voltage starting with 24-36v and maybe buy another controller and go 48v. I am told this 1000w motor will handle higher voltage with no problem. This is still a learning project for me along with some trial and error. If things go along as usual, more error.

    My interest is to put something together that can be very useable for transportation without breaking the bank. The body for the trike just arrived yesterday and the electrical stuff should be here in a coouple of weeks. It will be a Velomobile but not the type that requires thousands of dollars. My hope is it will look nice, be comfortable with good performance and range.

    So, we'll see. When done, I'll post pictures and tell you how it worked out. If you hear nothing, that will probably mean I was creamed by the traffic or electrocuted. It turned out so bad that I just don't want to talk about it.